In a letter to the Bedford Central School District community, Superintendent Joel Adelberg provided a preview of what parents, students and staff can expect from reopening plans for the fall.
“I know that there is a lot of information out there … I want to offer some clarity about where we are and exactly what you can expect to receive from us in the coming days and weeks,” he said in the letter dated Tuesday, July 28.
Mr. Adelberg shared that the New York State Education Department has asked all districts to submit three plans for delivery of school services for the fall: in-person, hybrid and remote. At present, he said BCSD anticipates operating grades three through 12 in a hybrid format.
Under this model, the district will teach 50% of the student body in-person all five days each week. Anyone entering the building will be screened and required to wear personal protective equipment. Students will have a defined schedule, assigned by alphabet, that will direct them to attend school two days one week and three days the next week.
Schools will be providing in-person instruction while operating at 50% student capacity, and classrooms will be retrofitted to ensure appropriate social distancing. As Mr. Adelberg described in previous letters, plans for in-person instruction will also require limits on student movement throughout the buildings. Elementary students will remain in their classrooms for the full day, including lunch and specials. Secondary students will travel between classes, with staggered passing times, directions for movement through the corridors, and an expectation that students will assist in keeping surfaces sanitized as they exit and enter each classroom.
On days when students are learning from home, they will follow a defined schedule as if they were in school.
Whether a student opts for hybrid learning or an entirely remote model, Mr. Adelberg assured parents and guardians that the quality of education would be the same. Each reopening plan provides for a program that includes regular substantive interaction between teachers and students whether delivered in-person, remotely or through a hybrid model of instruction.
“Equity must be at the heart of all school instructional decisions,” Mr. Adelberg wrote.
The reopening plans follows guidelines laid out by State Education Department guidelines, released earlier this month, outlining expectations for school districts in preparing alternate plans for the start of school in September. This guidance identified such areas for consideration as facilities, health and safety, transportation, school schedules, special education, bilingual education, and technology and connectivity. The New York State Department of Health also issued their guidelines this month, addressing issues such as screening of students and staff, social distancing regulations and PPE requirements. The BCSD administration said it has extensively reviewed all of these guidelines in developing reopening plans for the fall.
Reopening plans have also been influenced by feedback from community stakeholders in recent months. This includes comments gathered through the platform Thoughtexchange, which reached families from 14 school districts in the region. The plan also considered input from more than 150 parents participating in three district task forces — Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, and Re-entry/ Operations.
Mr. Adelberg noted that the reopening plans were subject to change, given the release of favorable, or unfavorable, data.
In the coming weeks, the district will seek to determine the number of families that are comfortable sending their children back to school at the start of the new school year. Through a questionnaire, respondents will be asked to specify a preferred learning format, transportation plans and other additional information.
“We will make every effort to best accommodate all of our families as you are most comfortable starting a new school year, one like we have never experienced before,” Mr. Adelberg said.