District Update - July 31, 2020 - Reopening Plan

Greetings Families and all in the Holley School Community,
On July 31, we submitted our 2020-21 Reopening Plan to the New York State Education Department. 
Here is some important information for our students, families and staff members:
  • The plan contains a Holley CSD response to all of the New York State mandates.
  • The plan reflects in-person, remote (at-home learning), and a hybrid model for learning.
  • The plan contains detailed information regarding: health and safety issues, transportation, food services, facilities, social-emotional well-being, special education and English Language Learners, schedules, budget and fiscal matters, attendance and other required areas.
The question I’ve been asked the most these past few weeks is, “What will school look like for Holley when you open in September?”  In truth, our reopening plan covers a lot of requirements and possibilities, but the answer as to exactly what will be in place when we open is still unknown.  The next step in getting a final answer about how much we’ll be back in person will start with the Governor’s decision on opening schools in NY State, which is expected by August 7.  Following that announcement, we will work on specific details that we will share with families and parents for exactly how we plan to open.  Therefore, although our plan is submitted, there are still a lot of questions to answer and work to do to be prepared for students and staff starting school in September.
Here are some key guiding principles we used to write our plan:
  • Meet all NYS mandates and keep student and staff health and safety a priority.
  • Create possibilities to be as fully in-person as possible, given our district resources, circumstances, and by following all NYS requirements (social distancing, creating "cohorts" of students, face coverings etc.).
  • Maintain sound instructional and social-emotional practices in-person or remotely.
Our philosophy for reopening our school district has been to consider a safe, phase-in approach.  We believe this is smart and will allow for flexibility and the ability to respond to whatever condition is allowed or required, especially given the COVID-19 situation, which is unpredictable. 
With so many new rules that we will need to enforce and mandates (daily health screening, hygiene routines, wearing masks, staying distant in building spaces and on buses, etc.) that we will need to learn and adhere to, we expect to have to spend considerable time to start the year going through all it with students and staff.  We also know that all these mandates will change how staff members have worked with students, both in-person and remotely.  However, we will have high expectations for student attendance, learning and achievement, no matter how we reopen.
I’ve also been asked a lot about a “hybrid model."  What is it, and what could it look like for Holley?  Here’s an example of what we included as a possible hybrid plan for Holley:
  • Cohort A: Monday & Tuesday - In-person instruction, Wednesday - All students remote learning & staff meet/connect/plan/professional development, Thursday & Friday - Remote learning
  • Cohort B: Monday & Tuesday - Remote learning, Wednesday - All students remote learning & staff meet/connect/plan/professional development, Thursday & Friday - In-person instruction 
Notes on a Hybrid Plan:
  • Could reflect PreK-12 or certain grade levels, based on Governor’s decision and enrollment situation when we open.
  • Requires that all staff be at work, in-person, every day.
  • Keeps students in cohorts (“pods”) and puts fewer people back on buses and in school.
  • Allows for required social distancing in building spaces and on buses.
  • All-remote Wednesdays:  deep cleaning between cohorts, meeting and planning time for teachers, PD for staff, 1:1 support and synchronous connection with students, check-in time for families, social-emotional support, etc.
  • Allows opportunities to go in-person more fully if possible, or out 100% remote, if that’s required.
  • Consistent with other districts in our BOCES (WeMoCo, shared services, SpEd etc.).
  • Potential for four, in-person days for self-contained Special Ed and ELL students.
Our reopening plan reflects conditions as we know them today.  Things can change and so can our plan.  We know that some families may elect to keep their children home, regardless of how we reopen.  This factor can change how we assign busing and classroom cohort assignments.  Very soon, we will be asking parents to formally let us know their intentions for sending their student(s) in to school (or not), as well as their specific transportation needs.  Please note, if a parent requests to have their student(s) home on a “fully remote” plan, it will be for a designated period of time, as we have to have accurate data to consider our classroom and bus capacities. 
After we receive the Governor’s decision about schools reopening, account for our families’ decisions to send their children back to school or not, and make adjustments accordingly, we will communicate our detailed plan to start school in September with our families and staff.   In the meantime, we will continue to investigate possibilities to safely open as much in-person as possible and to ensure the best learning and teaching conditions exist for our students and staff.
Here’s a link to the detailed plan we submitted to NYS today.  It can be found on our district website: http://www.holleycsd.org/Downloads/HCSD%20Reopening%20Plan%202020-2021.pdf
Stay healthy and stay strong, Holley.
Brian Bartalo
Superintendent of Schools

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