March 23, 2021
Dear West Genesee Parents/Guardians,
At the most recent Board of Education (BOE) meeting, I provided updates on planning for the upcoming months. This follows the recently released parameters from Onondaga County Officials entitled “Policy Proposal to Increase School Participation to 5 days per week in K-12 Schools in Onondaga County”. We will continue health screenings, symptom checks, hand washing practices, and adherence to physical distancing. The newly released change from 6’ to 3’ physical distancing has been approved for students and no longer requires the use of barriers for classroom settings. This creates opportunity.
There are still important factors that will require problem solving. We are currently exploring strategies for transportation and cafeteria use critical to the next phase. Our transportation and food services departments are brainstorming options and thinking creatively with regard to distancing and time. This may include the use of barriers within a setting of eating and/or relative to maximum occupancy for either situation.
The approach from the beginning has been to provide as much in-person learning for as many students as possible along with our option of a fully-remote setting. For in-person instruction, we prioritized our youngest learners along with students receiving support in English as a New Language programs and students with special needs. This remains true as we move forward.
The overview of the plan for upcoming months is as follows:
Elementary buildings (K-4) will continue in-person learning 5 days per week. There is additional flexibility for student grouping and staff partnerships. The exploration of additional movement, within the guidelines, is encouraged to support teaching and learning.
WGMS (Grades 5, 6) is planning for an increase of in-person learning following increasing opportunities that have occurred across the past months. In the upcoming weeks, Grade-5 students will return as a full group for 5 days of in-person learning. As part of a purposeful and scaffolding approach, Grade-6 will return to 5 days of instruction in the weeks that follow. (More information will be coming when details are firm.)
CMS (Grades 7, 8) is moving forward with plans to bring all students back together for 4 days of in-person learning (M, T, Th, F) later in April. The secondary-style schedule will maintain most teachers with their current students with some changes in assignments. Wednesdays will support the planning and collaborating with staff to support the transition of teacher changes. (More information will be coming when details are firm.)
WGHS (Grades 9-12) will begin Wednesdays for in-person instruction, starting with “Cohort A” (Grade-9, 10) on Wednesday, April 7 and alternating Wednesdays (“Cohort B” the following Wednesday, April 14, and so on) for the remainder of the year. These days will be an opportunity for appropriate remediation or enrichment. There is planning to reinstitute Interaction Time and/or a Principal Interaction Time to support at-risk learners and those in need of required completion. Also, increased opportunities for clubs in addition to athletic and fine arts opportunities continue to be ways to support wellness for our students and staff.
Remote Learning (K-12) will continue in the current format. The need for staff adjustments, if any, will be communicated in advance as we have significantly more students within the buildings.
The upcoming transition will not be perfect. Change will present some challenges and is, in many ways, part of a transition toward September. I emphasized to the BOE and observing community members the priority of continued quality as we look for some increased quantity. We have been through a great deal this school year and since March, 2020. We must approach this next step with patience and appreciation for one another as we navigate new terrain.
As we move forward in a very purposeful way, you will receive more information from your principal that is specific to your child’s building and circumstances, as appropriate.
A survey regarding transportation will be sent in upcoming days to parents/guardians of students in Grade 5 through 8 per building. This will help us to understand in greater detail the impact of increased instruction relative to parent needs for transport. Thank you, in advance, for completing the survey expeditiously.
David C. Bills
West Genesee CSD