Cuomo Says Schools Can Reopen, But I Still have A Lot Of Questions
After most of the 750 school districts around the state submitted their school reopening plans (about 130 didn't meet the deadline) Governor Cuomo announced on Friday, August 7th, that all schools can reopen this fall.
Reopening the schools will come with a lot of safety measures and strict guidelines that must be met for schools to actually open their doors to students.
Most school districts have three options for students. Most are doing a hybrid of in-classroom and remote learning with the option for all remote learning. Governor Cuomo asked that school districts post three components of their reopening plans on the district's website and then schedule online discussions with parents to answer questions.
As the father of a high school senior getting ready to go back to school, I have a lot of questions about how our schools will open safely for students, teachers, and staff.
Like, what happens when a student or teacher gets sick from the coronavirus? Do we test the entire class? School? How will they test? Does the school nurse do it or a local healthcare provider? What if a student or teacher shows up with a fever? If they rode the bus, does everyone on the bus have to be tested?
What happens if the infection rate starts going up? Are we going to shut down schools and go back to 100% remote learning? Who's playing for the computers for these kids that might not have one? What about internet access? I saw one story that said almost 30% of New York state doesn't have reliable high-speed internet.
What if a parent gets the virus? Does the student stay home and contact tracing identifies every one that student has been in contact with?
So many questions that need to be addressed at these online school district meetings.
Here are the back-to-school guidelines that we do know for students, teachers, staff, and parents this fall.
- Most school districts are requiring students and staff to wear masks at all times. A few schools are proposed mask breaks.
- Students and teachers must practice social distancing and must be six feet apart.
- Students must be 12 feet apart in gym and chorus class. Some districts are holding these classes virtually.
- Many large schools are closed to students midweek for deep-cleaning between groups of students doing hybrid learning.
- Most schools are asking parents to fill out health screening forms that are sent to school with the child each day. The screening includes a temperature check. Some schools will be doing a temperature check on each student, staff, and teacher when they arrive at school. Some districts also will have personnel check kids’ temperatures before they even board the bus.
- If a student is sick the school districts all have procedures for sick kids, who need to be isolated six feet apart in a special room, and typically sent home as soon as possible
- Many districts are asking parents if they would drive their child to school. Typically, buses will have one student per seat.
- Most school reopening plans give parents the option to stay with remote learning if they are more comfortable not sending their child into the school buildings.