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District prepares student returns in the fall

HORNELL – Hornell School Inspector Jeremy Palotti easily acknowledges that the post-COVID-19 public school education is still shrouded in a haze of uncertainty.

However, one thing that is certain by veteran school administrators is: permanent change into a distance learning model of public education will be wrong and unfair.

“Not in my life,” Palotti said. “I think it will be very detrimental to our children, our families, and the experiences they have.”

Like every other public school system in the state of New York, the Hornell City School District closed its building in mid-March, forced by the coronavirus pandemic to switch to online, virtual instruction for about 1,500 students.

Online learning will certainly continue until the last weeks of the current school year and during any summer school program offered by Hornell.

Schools have not yet been allowed to open, because New York is in the first phase of four phases to reopen the country.

Schools and colleges will be part of the fourth phase of the state-by-region reopening plan.

All of the north is now in Phase 1, and a move to any new phase will occur at two-week intervals, if the coronavirus infection rate continues to decline.

“While the amount of work that we asked students to complete during this closure has decreased, students need to continue to show evidence of progress in their subjects in order to receive credit for this year,” said Wellsville Inspector Dave Foster, whose district is hoping to have a graduation ceremony that modified at Wellsville City Airport, pending state approval.

The Hornell District has surveyed parents about the virtual learning experiences of children and their families, using feedback to make adjustments as they go along in methods and strategies. While the survey sample size is relatively small, responses generally signal district graduation for organization and communication.

And the school district is committed to making further improvements, Palotti said.

Will online education only continue when the fall semester starts in September? Palotti will not harm opinion.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” he said. “I don’t want to guess that now. We are just in Phase 1 now.”

When the school building reopens, what will the district do to maintain the safety of students and staff? The school district will need guidance.

“There is so much conjecture about what the situation is like, from an alternative schedule until you name it. They are everywhere,” Palotti said.

Districts may be needed to monitor temperature, provide face masks, and undertake additional resources to clean and sterilize school buildings.

Can the district do that? Palotti said the school district would find a way if protection was needed, but he said distancing might prove to be the most difficult challenge facing educators.

“I think it will be the most logically challenging part,” Palotti said.

“How do we do it in the school environment? That’s the biggest head scratcher we have. We can provide it in the classroom by looking at class sizes, with certain things we can control, but how do you do it on the school bus? “

Wellsville Central School District also plans for the 2020-21 school year in the fall.

“We are entering a new phase,” Foster said. “We have been working to preserve our year-end celebrations and prepare to face the new norms that will welcome us in the fall. The work of preparing for what will happen next is monumental, but we will do it and do it in the best way to balance risk with the benefits of what schools should offer. “

Despite the logistical challenges of keeping children and staff safe post-pandemic, Palotti said distance learning could not be a permanent answer to the crisis.

“Those who study distance (say) that it can increase the level of the playing field. At some level, of course, maybe you can offer classes at Hornell which we cannot offer because they are offered elsewhere, but the inequality and the striking difference between access to education and support is very good.

“You assume that children are sufficiently independent where they can follow or remain in front of their teacher, or they have parents or adult caregivers who are there at certain times to train, support, become models. That is not realistic.

“We have parents who reach out to us, people who try to be unlucky, but they both work 8 to 10 hours a day at whatever job they have, and they try to support their children in what they do. do, and that’s not fair. “

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