District Update – July 24, 2020

Greetings Families and all in the Holley School Community. 
 
At the end of last week we received the NY State Education Department (NYSED) Guidance Document for reopening schools.  This week, the District administration team and staff have worked hard on learning and understanding the mandates and recommendations from NYS for our schools to reopen in September.  We have also worked on many scenarios and plans to consider how to best prepare for all possible outcomes for reopening our schools safely at Holley. 
 
Given this, I wanted to provide families with an update as to where we are currently in our planning process.   We have our next reopening advisory meeting scheduled for Monday, July 27th.  This meeting will have representation from all areas of our staff, parents and students and we will review all the guidance mandates, share ideas, and ask questions regarding our reopening plans. 
 
Once we have input from our stakeholders and given all the work that’s already gone into our preparations, we will submit our plans to NYSED by Friday, July 31, per the mandate.  We have to cover many safety and regulatory areas in our outline and it will include our plans for in-person, remote and a “hybrid” of both.  This detailed plan will also be posted on our district website, so all will have access.
 
After our plan is submitted, we will continue our work on two main areas:  specific details of our plans that we will still need to address to be ready for September and a communication plan for families and staff members.  Then once the Governor and NYSED have made a determination of how we can reopen, which is supposed to take place by August 7th, we will communicate to our district families and staff as soon as possible exactly what our plan is, so they can be fully informed and prepare.
 
Please consider the following:
 
•      Given the social distance and masking rules for transportation, there will be limits to the number of children we can put on a bus.  In order to best prepare, we will soon be asking parents to formally let us know if they plan to transport their children to school.  Thank you for your consideration and understanding in this area. 
 
•      Due to current mandates for social distancing and/or wearing face coverings, students will need to be prepared to wear a mask at school.  Although there will be “mask breaks” and times when social distancing will allow for no masks, students will still need to have them.  If they don’t come to school with a mask, they will be issued one.  Students will be socially distant (6 feet) for meals, so masks will not be worn for breakfast, snacks and lunch times. 
 
•      If we start back to school in a “hybrid model” (some remote, some in-person days), we will be structuring the system in such a way that children will be assigned to a cohort, in order to minimize total contact with others and keep groupings smaller.  This will allow for greater distancing at school and on busses too.  We will be putting families in the same cohort group, so that schedules will be consistent.  However, if this occurs, we will work with families that may need exceptions to how their children are assigned to a group. 
 
•      If we are informed that we have to start the year fully remote (like we ended this past school year), if we start with some level of in-person learning and are all of a sudden informed we have to revert to fully remote instruction (due to an increase of cases or infection rates etc.), or if families choose to not send their children to school in-person at all; we will be providing technology and plans for at-home (remote) learning, similar to how we did this past spring.  However, the difference will be that there will be more direct instruction, including some live (“real-time”) instruction, along with attendance and grading requirements that were not as defined or present this past school year. More details will come out on this, as we get closer to the start of the year.  We are also currently considering our learning platforms and on-line systems, based on feedback we received from this past school year. 
 
•      Some parents have asked about “homeschooling” vs. “remote” (or distance) learning.  To be clear, if a parent elects to homeschool their child, they have to follow all of NYS requirements for that and file paperwork with the district.  Homeschooling families will not receive instruction from our teachers remotely and will be responsible for educating their own children.  This would be no different for those that homeschool during any other time.  Students that are home for “remote learning”, will receive all their instruction from Holley teachers. 
 
•      If we are fully remote or in a hybrid situation, we will still be providing food (breakfast and lunch) for students when they are not in school, just as we did this past spring.  Details about that would come out as soon as we know how our reopening will look. 
 
•      Family plans for child care and supervision for children at home if we are fully remote or in a hybrid situation, should be considered now. 
  
Planning for the reopening of schools during a global pandemic has been as challenging a task as I’ve been a part of in my 32 years in public education.  There are so many factors to consider and so many opinions and emotions around this topic.  Please know that at Holley, we want to provide the best education we can for our children and in the safest way possible.  We will follow all the NYS mandates and by working together, we will have a plan that will be flexible and will meet the needs of our students.  With that stated, not everyone will agree on the best plan or how they want to respond to our plan with their children.  We understand and respect that. 
 
Thank you for your continued support and patience as we work through all the requirements and guidelines to educate the children of the Holley CSD.  Our partnership has been essential during these challenging times and we need that to continue, in order to do our best for our students.
 
Stay healthy and stay strong Holley.
 
Brian Bartalo
Superintendent of Schools

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