While the Saugerties and Onteora school districts recently welcomed students back into the classroom in hybrid educational models, the Kingston and New Paltz districts were inching closer to putting their own plans into action. Each district is finding it has its own set of unique challenges. Though all are developing safety and cleaning protocols based on Covid-19 state guidance, they are finding no one-size-fits-all solution.
The average age of the district buildings is 69 years and problems have emerged over time. The district superintendent said taxes would be unaffected because debt payments for the last project, begun in 2005-6, are coming to an end in a couple years, and the new project would cost taxpayers the same amount per year.
After a month of fully remote learning, some local school districts have begun bringing elementary and secondary students back onto campus in hybrid educational models. Other districts, for a variety of reasons, have yet to make the transition. Those who are opening have enacted safety and cleaning protocols based on Covid-19 state guidance.
Ulster BOCES plans to give school districts a day each week for hands-on lab classes, with the remainder of its offerings taught remotely.
The reasons given were varied. All centered on concerns for safety. Some districts reported supply-chain issues with various PPE (personal protective equipment) or cleaning supplies. Some said remote learning would provide the time for more training of teachers and other staff. More time in an ever-evolving pandemic is something in short supply.
In July, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association pushed the start of its fall sports season back from August 24 to September 21 in response to the continuing pandemic. While New York governor Andrew Cuomo last week announced that school districts can reopen for in-person classes next month, nothing further has been decided about the start of fall sports.
Governor Andrew Cuomo last week announced that school districts in every region of New York State will be allowed to reopen this fall using the plans they themselves submitted to the state for review. At least one local school district, New Paltz, has already decided that it is not yet ready to welcome students back in person, citing concerns for community safety.
Certain preparations are universal. School districts share similar cleaning and disinfecting protocols, wearing masks and distancing rules. Most will offer transportation options to ensure safety both on the way to school and at the point of disembarkation. They will require daily screening for symptoms of Covid-19 or high temperatures, All districts have some idea of how they’ll handle an outbreak, including a plan for quarantine. And all are devising plans while simultaneously awaiting guidance from governor Andrew Cuomo, the state education department and local boards of health.
While fitness centers and yoga studios in neighboring states are reopening with restricted capacity and mandatory mask use, New York has so far kept the doors on these businesses closed. Locally, business owners are frustrated at being left out of the state’s phased reopening plans, with some signing on to a lawsuit filed earlier this month against New York, the state Attorney General’s office, and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The appointment of Lauren Sheeley as Ulster County public defender was rejected by a 14-9 vote in the legislature last week. Voting against County Executive Pat Ryan’s choice crossed party lines, with the primary issue the candidate’s lack of criminal law and courtroom experience.