Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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Hybrid School Reopening Scenario Most Likely

“I am struggling to see anything but a hybrid model at the secondary level,” Scarice said, though he stressed he still supported getting students back full time if it can be done safely. The logistics of safe social distancing among secondary students appear beyond the capability of the district, given space considerations.

“Secondary is about as prohibitive as it gets,” Scarice said.

He said that this week he would be touring the elementary schools and taking a closer look at plans there.

Likewise plans for Staples are being revised and will be presented to the BOE next week.

He said he and his staff intend to have final plans out by Aug. 15, which they will present. At this point he said about 15% of parents intend to keep their children home regardless of what scenario is in place, in essence requiring that the district implement a hybrid model anyway.

Once again Scarice gave warning to the BOE that, whichever way the final decision goes, the issue is going to remain a heated one throughout the community, indicating the board needed to put forward a united front.

“This is going to be a very divisive issue and I think it’s critically important at the leadership level that we do our best,” he said, to “manage the culture.”

He said he’d received well over 100 emails on the issue, “relatively split,” but leaning toward caution in reopening.

He said the decision would ultimately stem from the health officials in relation to the virus numbers.

Scarice recapped several new developments that have come down from the state — in particular its decision to yield the choice of a reopening plan — whether full, partial, or a continuation of distance learning — largely to each district.

“We are strongly encouraged to continue with the goal of full on-site schooling,” he said.

The state has finally released the metrics to be used in determining reopening plans, broken down into low-, moderate- and high-risk factors. An average of less than 10 new COVID-19 cases in a week is considered low, 10 to 25 in a week is considered moderate, and more than that is considered high.

Scarice said other factors — what he called second-degree indicators — will also be taken into consideration, including hospitalization and testing rates.

“The Department of Public Health will update these on a weekly basis, we’ve been told,” he said, though they’ll be releasing state numbers by county, not municipality. Scarice said this was good, however, as the virus did not respect town borders.

Several comments came from the public expressing concerns and outlining pedantic plans for meeting the crisis.

One parents suggested the district invest close to $6 million to install a series of HEPA air filter systems, while another stressed a strong desire for a virus-alert network and database that the public can have access to by classroom and school.

Meanwhile the board unanimously approved emergency purchasing power and the waiver of the competitive bidding process for both Scarice and Elio Longo, chief financial officer, for virus-related purchases.

“There are times when you need to act quickly,” Scarice said, with up to $250,000 authorized through Sept. 30.

“I am struggling to see anything but a hybrid model at the secondary level,” Scarice said, though he stressed he still supported getting students back full time if it can be done safely. The logistics of safe social distancing among secondary students appear beyond the capability of the district, given space considerations.

“Secondary is about as prohibitive as it gets,” Scarice said.

He said that this week he would be touring the elementary schools and taking a closer look at plans there.

Likewise plans for Staples are being revised and will be presented to the BOE next week.

He said he and his staff intend to have final plans out by Aug. 15, which they will present. At this point he said about 15% of parents intend to keep their children home regardless of what scenario is in place, in essence requiring that the district implement a hybrid model anyway.

Once again Scarice gave warning to the BOE that, whichever way the final decision goes, the issue is going to remain a heated one throughout the community, indicating the board needed to put forward a united front.

“This is going to be a very divisive issue and I think it’s critically important at the leadership level that we do our best,” he said, to “manage the culture.”

He said he’d received well over 100 emails on the issue, “relatively split,” but leaning toward caution in reopening.

He said the decision would ultimately stem from the health officials in relation to the virus numbers.

Scarice recapped several new developments that have come down from the state — in particular its decision to yield the choice of a reopening plan — whether full, partial, or a continuation of distance learning — largely to each district.

“We are strongly encouraged to continue with the goal of full on-site schooling,” he said.

The state has finally released the metrics to be used in determining reopening plans, broken down into low-, moderate- and high-risk factors. An average of less than 10 new COVID-19 cases in a week is considered low, 10 to 25 in a week is considered moderate, and more than that is considered high.

Scarice said other factors — what he called second-degree indicators — will also be taken into consideration, including hospitalization and testing rates.

“The Department of Public Health will update these on a weekly basis, we’ve been told,” he said, though they’ll be releasing state numbers by county, not municipality. Scarice said this was good, however, as the virus did not respect town borders.

Several comments came from the public expressing concerns and outlining pedantic plans for meeting the crisis.

One parents suggested the district invest close to $6 million to install a series of HEPA air filter systems, while another stressed a strong desire for a virus-alert network and database that the public can have access to by classroom and school.

Meanwhile the board unanimously approved emergency purchasing power and the waiver of the competitive bidding process for both Scarice and Elio Longo, chief financial officer, for virus-related purchases.

“There are times when you need to act quickly,” Scarice said, with up to $250,000 authorized through Sept. 30.

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