SCHOOL REFINES REOPENING
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
“Professionally, I’m offended,” he said. “There was a flaw in the submission process, and no school wants to be publicly shamed for a mistake.”
According to Crankshaw, the school board, after filing for an extension on its reopening plan, submitted the plan to the state Education Department Thursday, Aug. 6, one day before the Friday deadline.
However, he said, CCS missed it was also supposed to submit the plan to the state Department of Health, and since rectified the mistake.
“We are not in danger of not reopening,” he said. “But this just shows how little regard Cuomo gives to public education.”
On Friday, Aug. 7, Cuomo announced all schools in the state are cleared to open, but stopped short of demanding a reopening, leaving the final decisions to the district.
Under their submitted plan, students in each grade will be divided up into two “cohorts,” which will attend classes on campus two alternating days a week – Cohort A will attend Mondays and Wednesdays, Cohort B will attend Tuesdays and Thursdays – as well as every other Friday.
On the days they are not in class, students will use online curriculum, including pre-recorded lessons, projects related to in-person lessons and independent practice.
With concerns about connectivity in the more rural areas of the district, the school has ordered Wifi “hot spots” for students who have cell-phone service but no Internet access, and will also set up a socially distanced common area for students who wish to do their online learning on campus.
“We’ll have a 20- by 40-foot tent with a heater for cooler days,” said Crankshaw. “It will be monitored, and students can do their work in there.”
Students will be required to wear masks on campus. “That’s non-negotiable,” he said.
Crankshaw said the school is still working on a formal procedure to deal with any students who may begin exhibiting COVID symptoms during the day, including ordering testing and contact tracing. That plan will be in place before the start of the school year, he said.
Though elementary students were supposed to start returning to classrooms Sept. 21 – with online curriculum for two weeks following the planned start date of Sept. 9 – Crankshaw said the current thinking is to have all students return at the same time.
In Oneonta, schools will not open for in-person classes until Oct. 6, Superintendent Thomas Brindley announced last week. Instead, all learning will continue to take place remotely.
“We knew Cuomo would make some sort of decision, but because it’s been left to the districts, nothing has changed for us,” he said.
Similar to Cooperstown, Oneonta has reached out to families that do not have Internet access to figure out the best way to help them access online classes. “We’ve had approximately 40 families express some need for Wifi,” he said. “So we’re ordering mobile hot spots to give them.”
The school will also continue to distribute free meals the same way they did in the spring.
“Ultimately, we will come back to the building,” he said. “We want to create as normal a schedule as we can so we can return as seamlessly as possible.”