Last week, New York State released a large amount of information about the specific requirements for reopening public school districts in September. In case you missed any of it, below is a summary of last week’s updates from the New York State Dept. of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Dept. (NYSED) about school reopening.
On Monday, July 13, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the formula and metrics that will determine how/if school districts will reopen this fall. Schools in NYS regions where the daily infection rate is below 5% over a 14-day average and are in Phase 4 of reopening will likely be allowed to reopen. Governor Cuomo will make this initial decision about school reopenings during the first week of August.
That initial reopening decision is subject to change if a school district’s region triggers a “safety valve” after August 1. This means that schools will need to close if their region’s infection rate hits 9% or higher over a 7-day average after August 1.
Also on July 13, NYSDOH released interim guidance for in-person instruction at PK-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and the master guidance document of summary guidelines for PK-12 in-person instruction. While helpful, these two guidance documents mainly focused on public health protections for in-person instruction and left many questions about logistical concerns and staff/student support services.
Later in the week on Thursday, July 16, NYSED provided an extensive 145-page document addressing many of those remaining questions: Recovering, Rebuilding and Renewing: The Spirit of New York’s Schools. This document was created following a series of state-wide school region meetings involving multiple public education stakeholders. Additionally, NYSED also released a short School Reopening FAQ sheet at the end of the week which parents/guardians may find helpul.
All New York State public school districts must now use the NYSED guidance in conjunction with the NYSDOH guidelines to create their own comprehensive district-wide reopening plan. Those reopening plans must include options for three different instructional scenarios: in-person instruction, remote/online instruction and hybrid instruction (in-person and remote). All school districts must then submit their comprehensive reopening plans for state review by July 31.
The Ichabod Crane Reopening Task Force and Sub-Committees (click to jump to Task Force & Sub-Committee lists) are currently hard at work on our district’s 2020-2021 Reopening Plan. In addition to the state guidance, we are incorporating as much feedback from our 2020-2021 Parent Planning Survey as possible in the reopening plan. Once the state has approved our final school reopening plan, it will be sent to all Ichabod Crane families and will be publicly available on the district website.
We appreciate all your patience and support during this time as we figure out a safe, effective way to teach our students during the coming school year.