The Greenport School District has been granted a one-week extension to file its reopening plan to New York State that outlines how the district is preparing to resume instruction in September under three potential scenarios: in-person, remote learning and a hybrid model.
Superintendent Marlon Small, who began the new role at the beginning of July, held a virtual town hall with parents Thursday ahead of a special Board of Education meeting to provide an update on the district’s plan. The State Department of Education provided specific guidelines to districts they must follow in creating their individual plans, which were to be submitted for review by July 31. Mr. Small said the district was granted an extension until Aug. 7. The plan will be posted publicly on the district website, as required by the state, when it is finalized, he said. He described the plan as a “living document” that will be subject to change as the school year progresses.
While the plan remains in draft form, Mr. Small pointed to a hybrid model that would combine in-person and distance learning as a likely model for Greenport, which faces a unique situation given that the elementary and secondary students both attend the same building. Seventh and eighth grade students are included as secondary students.
“We are trying as much as we can to have our elementary school students in the building as much as we can,” Mr. Small said, referring to the younger students as the “most vulnerable learners.”
He said the hybrid model would similar between the elementary and secondary students if needed, although the goal would be to avoid using a hybrid model for elementary students.
When asked about high school students, Mr. Small said: “In order to reduce the amount of students in a classroom, the hybrid model might be the more effective way to go. I want to have further discussions before we finalize that decision.”
Students would be divided by alphabetical order into a rotation of Monday/Tuesday, every other Wednesday and Thursday/Friday under a hybrid model. Elementary School Principal Joseph Tsaveras described the two groups as purple and gold.
He said the goal would be for the lessons going on in the classroom to be the same as at home by using Google Classroom platform. Mr. Small said he wants to have more Chromebooks in the building so students become more comfortable with them in case they must begin remote learning.
“We are ordering more devices to make sure we have them in the classroom with kids when school starts so that as teachers are teaching in the classroom, they’re using the technology, they’re practicing to use it,” Mr. Small said.
Students and staff would be required to wear face coverings while in the building, Mr. Small said. Exceptions would made for any student who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition. He added that they are planning to implement mask breaks for students. He said teachers would be encouraged to use outside space when possible for classes when the weather is still warm enough and the district is exploring putting up outdoor tents.
The district will also use special areas such as the library and art and music rooms as extra classrooms to open additional space so kids can spread out. Mr. Small said the district is also purchasing table shields.
“We’re going to have directional signs to ensure that we reduce back and forth traffic as much as we can, where kids would travel in one direction only,” Mr. Small said.
He said for social distancing, the capacity in classrooms will be reduced and they’re working to determine specific limits for each room.
“I think right now we’re envisioning about 12-15 students per classroom,” he said. “Some classrooms will have far less than that.”
Mr. Small said the district is purchasing no-contact thermometers so staff members can conduct temperature checks for students before they enter the building. All staff members will be required to submit a daily health screening and they will have their temperature checked. He said there will be multiple entry points to help limit congestion as students arrived. He encouraged parents if they can to drive their students to school to limit how many students ride buses.