By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – At Cooperstown Central School, it’s good to be back.
“Last week, the faculty and staff were all saying, ‘We can’t wait until Monday,’” said interim Superintendent Ramona Wenck,. “The kids are happy to be here too. It’s like they say – you don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it.”
Divided into “A” and “B” cohorts, students returned to the campus on Monday, Oct. 5, with plenty of precautions in place, including masks, social distancing, temperature checks and an online check-in for parents to fill out every day.
“The kids have been great about all of it,” she said.
Students in the “A” group attend classes Monday and Wednesday; students in the “B” group attend Tuesday and Thursday, with Friday as a virtual day for all. When not on campus, students will learn remotely.
Masks must be worn throughout the day, but students will be given “mask breaks” at times when social distancing can be maintained, or while eating.
In the elementary school, students can still do recess and gym class, although lunches are made “grab-and-go” and students eat in their classroom.
“In gym, they have to be 12 feet apart, but it’s amazing what the teachers are able to do that is engaging for students in the gym and learning remotely,” she said.
In the high school, students still go between classes as normal, but are divided into three lunch groups. Tables in the cafeteria have been replaced with desks for adequate social distancing.
“It’s been great so far,” she said. “We’re very excited to have the children back.”
Students in Oneonta, Laurens and Milford will return to campus on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“It’s consistent with our reopening framework,” said Oneonta Superintendent Thomas Brindley. “Based on our current infection rate and the fact that the widespread transmission from the COVID
infection at the college was less than we had feared, we were encouraged by the Department of Health to go ahead and reopen.”
Their “A” cohorts will attend classes in person on Monday and Tuesday, with the “B” cohort on campus on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be a distance learning day for all students.
“It’s a lot to ask our faculty and staff to work remotely and in-person, but I know they’re up to the challenge,” said Brindley.
Families were given the option to remain remote; Brindley said approximately 200 students would learn from home.
“Hopefully as schools ease back into instruction and infection rates continue to decline, we might be able to ease up some,” he said. “But families who aren’t comfortable returning have the option of staying home.”
But before classes begin, there are still some kinks to work out, he said. “The biggest challenge is being able to serve meals six feet apart,” he said. “But with every passing day, we get closer to figuring these things out.”
An “isolation room” has been set aside for any student or faculty member who begins showing symptoms at school, and students need to pass a daily screening to gain entrance.
Brindley is also hoping that wearing masks – and staying home when you’re feeling sick – will also help keep colds and flu from spreading.
“We’ve never been here before,” he said. “I’m anxious, but I’m also excited to have our students back.”