Kingston City School District Superintendent Paul Padalino announced at the March 3 board of education meeting that the district is heading towards in-person learning five days a week for pre-k through fourth grade for the last ten weeks of school for those who want to opt-in, beginning in April. Remote-learning will remain an option.
Additionally, the district will offer “a robust, optional, in-person summer program.”
Why start in April? It is believed by that time all teachers who want to be vaccinated will be. Additionally, warmer weather makes it easier to keep the windows open and take class or lunch outdoors.
Padalino said each school will develop its own approach for in-person instruction, which will be based on the staffing as well as community input. Over the next few weeks, there will be further information sent to families and town halls conducted by each school.
“This is different from how we usually operate,” said Padalino. “We are looking at school by school, using their staffing and the building they have to do the best we can to have as many students in. It will look different in different places but with education we are looking at equity.”
Padalino said the change might require some students to have different teachers.
“One of the concerns around this was will my student be able to keep their teacher,” said Padalino. “In some cases that answer might be yes and in other cases the answer is going to be no – depending on the building, their staffing, their capacity and how they arrange to make sure we can safely get as many students back as possible.”
He said it would be a tradeoff for students to adjust to having a different teacher, but it would be worth it, given the advantages of in-person instruction.
The district is already increasing student presence in the school buildings. Beginning Monday, March 8, students with learning disabilities, students who are struggling remotely and English language learner students were allowed to come in for four days a week.
“We’ve been working diligently to try to come up with a plan to get them in five days a week,” said Padalino. “The current school data indicates that it is appropriate at this time. It’s a deliberate and intentional effort to phase our students back to in-person learning.”
The middle and high school levels will not see a full week of in-person learning at this time. However, Padalino said the district is looking into it. Padalino said the district will continue to invite students for four days a week based on need, similar to who is allowed back at the elementary level.
“This will continue at the secondary level as space allows,” said Padalino. “It will be a rolling evaluation to see how many more students we can bring in at any given time or for a longer period of time.”