Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to allow all school districts across the state to fully reopen won’t affect Cortland County school districts’ plans for how their schools will operate come fall.
The governor’s announcement Friday was based on the state’s low infection rate overall, which he has attributed to strong guidelines put in place, like mandatory mask wearing and social distancing.
Cuomo’s announcement clears the way for schools to offer at least some days of in-person classes, alongside remote learning. Students will be required to wear masks throughout each school day.
“Everywhere in the state, every region is below the threshold that we established,” Cuomo told reporters. He said New York can revisit the issue if the infection rate spikes.
“So if anyone can open schools, we can open schools,” Cuomo said.
School districts though will have to decide for themselves how they will teach students for the upcoming school year. The state Department of Education will notify school districts on Monday if their reopening plans have been accepted. Of 749 school districts in the state, 127 have not yet filed plans and another 50 are incomplete or deficient.
Cuomo also called on school districts to post their plans online for remote learning, testing and contact tracing, as well as having three meetings between districts and parents and one between the districts and their teachers.
At the Homer Central School District, the district is waiting to hear back from parents about which method of teaching, among other options, they would prefer for their students, Superintendent Thomas Turck said.
“Quite honestly, I would have expected him (Cuomo) to say what he said,” Turck said. “I would have been surprised if he said anything else.”
The district is still looking to move forward with its proposed teaching options, including remote, hybrid and fully in-person teaching for the various grades. But the plans have not been made final until the district hears from parents.
“We’ve got to start putting some concrete plans in place based upon the needs of our families,” Turck said.
He also said that there are questions in the district about the responsibility of testing students for COVID-19 and whether the responsibility for testing comes from districts themselves or elsewhere, which he has gotten mixed answers from the state Department of Education and the governor’s office.
Details on the district’s reopening plans will be published on its website as it comes out, Turck said, and he looks to have another video conference with parents.
The news hasn’t affected the Cortland Enlarged City School District’s plans either, Superintendent Robert Edwards said.
“We’re excited that schools can open,” he said. “That’s really good news.”
Like Homer, the Cortland school district is still getting information from parents on how they want to see their children taught in the fall. The district plans to have a remote and hybrid
form of teaching available but no plans have been finalized
Additionally, the district will have two more video sessions with parents before Aug. 21 and looks to be on target for its Sept. 10 starting date.
More information on reopening will also be posted on the district’s website and its social media pages.