New Hartford Schools Change Reopening Plan for Fall
At the New Hartford Central School Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, the board voted to reopen schools 100-percent remotely on September 9th, for the first six weeks of classes. The policy will then be reviewed in mid October.
The Tuesday afternoon meeting held remotely via Zoom and open to the public featured representatives of the teacher's union, several teachers and parents speaking out about their concerns.
Recently, the district surveyed teachers and staff and found that an overwhelming majority of them were uncomfortable with starting in-person on September 8th, because they felt they weren't prepared. Teachers cited the fact that guidelines came late, and the technology equipment still hasn't been installed in classrooms in order to perform online instruction. The district cited the fact that many vendors are struggling to provide all of the equipment needed to schools, because of the skyrocketing demand around the country.
Not everyone who spoke was opposed to reopening in-person. There were some teachers surveyed who said they preferred to reopen with students in the classroom. Additionally some parents who spoke to the board, supported the in-person re-opening because of the lack of social interaction for their children. One parent said her child demanded that he was able to return to the classroom. Meanwhile, the majority of teachers who attended the remote meeting were still uneasy with the plan. One elementary teacher who is also a parent, cited the fact that the lack of preparedness would actually cause additional anxiety for students, especially for those who already struggle with anxiety issues. She reminded the board that the school that children will be re-entering in the fall is not going to look like the same school they vacated in March. "Things will look much different" said Nicole Gerardo, a first grade teacher at Bradley Elementary.
During the meeting, the Board approved to move the first day of school from September 8th, to Wednesday, September 9th, for a Superintendent's Day. Superintendent Robert Nole then recommended that the board adopt a complete remote learning plan for the first six weeks of the school year, to make sure that the school was safely reopening for students, teachers and staff. The measure was then adopted unanimously by the board.
New Hartford's version of 100% remote learning will require student attendance and unlike the process in the spring, will include teaching the entire curriculum, attendance and the grading of students.
The original proposed plan for New Hartford was to adopt the hybrid model for all students with two groups attending in person twice a week and every other Friday. Days that they weren't in the classroom would require attendance via computer from home. Teachers would be instructing to both in-person and remote learning students at various times through the day.
Tuesday's vote by the board will give the district almost eight weeks to refine their plans, that could include in-person learning beginning on October 19th.