School bus reopen photo

Scarsdale school buses sit idle at the bus depot until school reopens in September.

The Scarsdale Restart Committee continues to listen to parent feedback. Less than 48 hours after the district released the plan to the public for the first time Monday night, new changes were made to the elementary school and high school hybrid schedules today.

For elementary school students, instead of going every other day for half a day as originally proposed, they will go daily for either the morning from 9 to 11:15 a.m. or afternoon 12:45 to 3 p.m., with cleaning in between.

Superintendent Thomas Hagerman wrote in a letter to the community Wednesday, “In the last 48 hours, the Board of Education and the Administration have received an enormous amount of feedback from the community, specifically around the elementary hybrid model. This feedback has been overwhelmingly focused on the amount of live instructional time and the number of days elementary students will attend schools. To be clear, the committee looked to maximize true instructional time for students, organize it into meaningful, connected blocks of learning, and to minimize the non-instruction activities so as to allow the most meaningful experience possible in the core subjects. It was also predicated on Dr. Louis Corsaro’s, our District physician, preference for an A/B model due to the mitigating effects of a reduced number of contact days for any given student.

“Having said that, the community’s priority, based on this overwhelming input, is the frequency of student, in-person attendance. This has resulted in the administration’s decision to adjust the hybrid model for elementary from A/B to an AM/PM model.

“Since there will be additional contact points for teachers and students throughout the week, there will be an additional risk for transmission within our schools and community. Thus, it is essential that we be able to adhere to the safety precautions we have outlined for all models, especially the full-cleaning and disinfection between cohorts. The hiring of additional custodians (beyond those positions already needed) will be necessary in order to accomplish the cleaning and disinfecting required between the AM and PM sessions in 90 minutes (down from 2 hours). Additionally, all the other procedures, including the use of PPE, cohorting, social distancing, and the treatment of sick persons, will remain the same. Finally, additional aides and other personnel will be required to ensure that these logistics can be achieved and that our health needs and educational programming are fully supported.

“There are many details that will need to be ironed out in the days and weeks ahead, and we will not have answers for many logistical issues in the short-term; however, we will continue to work through these and communicate them out to the community on a regular basis.”

The change to the high school schedule includes “additional synchronous instruction in the afternoons and more frequent contacts per course. The hybrid schedule for Scarsdale High School allows students to come to school for two half-days per week in the morning to receive in-person instruction in school and now provides students four half-days per week in the afternoon to receive remote synchronous instruction at home.” This will provide a jump from 85 to 100 minutes of synchronous instruction.

“Given the information above, we are adjusting our communication schedule slightly to allow our presentation to reflect the most recent changes,” Hagerman wrote. “We had hoped to release a recorded presentation today, but we will present the adjusted plan live at the start of the Public Forum and Board of Education meeting tomorrow [Aug. 6]. Please note, the written plan document will not reflect these changes until later in the week, but will be done by Friday when our plan will be submitted to the State.”

Scarsdale has three Zoom meetings scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 6:

1) A public forum on the restart plan from 1-2:30 p.m. at zoom.us/j/99386699960;

2) A board of education special meeting from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at zoom.us/j/92299123289; and

3) A board of education listening session from 6:30-8 p.m. at zoom.us/j/92935409522.

A follow-up survey will be sent to parents on Aug. 10 to “assess parents’ current plans for the fall, in the event we are allowed to open for in-person learning.” At that time parents will be able to choose a remote e-learning option. The survey will also cover transportation to determine how many students will travel by bus, carpool or on foot.

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