A popular meme circulating this week showed a woman grimacing as she reacted to each of three scenarios: Starting school in person, starting school online, or homeschooling.
We chuckled at the image, but deep down we could relate to the uncertainty and unease, if not fear, imbedded in the scenarios for reopening schools this fall. If we send students and educators back to school, how do we know they’ll be safe and stay healthy? If we keep them home part-time, how do we know they’ll keep up with the work, and how will parents be able to go to work? And homeschooling? Not enough bandwidth!
Parents, teachers and school administrators are waiting with bated breath to hear Gov. Andrew Cuomo announce in the first week of August how school districts in New York should proceed this fall. Whichever way it goes, there will be a mad scramble to comply with reams of protocol, precautions, guidelines and mandates. School districts have been grappling day and night to come up with viable plans since the State Education Department issued more than 140 pages of guidelines on July 16, guidelines that cover everything from face coverings to cleaning, and classroom capacity to transportation.
With sights set on the governor’s July 31 deadline for turning in plans to the state, Scarsdale Schools are formulating three options: fully in person, fully remote and a hybrid version that combines both. The process is ongoing and details won’t be revealed until Aug. 3. Edgemont School District on the other hand, stated it’s favoring a hybrid model that combines in-school and remote learning.
But in either case, the key is what the faculty, staff and families will be most comfortable with. In Edgemont, committee recommendations and community members’ concerns were shared through virtual meetings hosted by the schools, with two more scheduled on July 29. In Scarsdale, online survey responses from 2,700 families and a separate survey of faculty/staff are being reviewed and quantified, and added to the many hours of work by a steering committee and 10 task force groups comprising 100 stakeholders.
The timeline for district leaders to figure it all out, and for stakeholders to have their say, is excruciatingly tight. We don’t yet know where the chips will fall, but we’ll bet whatever the outcome is, it will cause some portion of the populace to grimace.