Holley will bring more students back for in-person learning next month

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 March 2021 at 2:24 pm

Grades 3-6 will go to 4 days of in-person, and grades 7-12 could as well

HOLLEY – The school district announced it will be bringing back more students next month for 4 days of in-person learning each week, and could have all grade levels at 4 days a week if the state approves lowering the minimum spacing between desks from 6 to 3 feet.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last Friday announced it was changing its guideline for minimum social distancing in schools, from 6 to 3 feet, as long as students are wearing masks.

“This has caused many regions and entire state health departments to alter restrictions and update their guidance plans, which could ultimately allow for more students to return to school buildings for in-person learning this academic year,” Brian Bartalo, Holley school district superintendent, said in a letter today to the community.

Before Holley can move desks closer it needs the NYS Department of Health to approve the change in social distancing guidance. Holley has been anticipating the change to 3 feet, and is planning a phase-in after spring recess to bring back more students for four days of in-perosn learning. Just last week Holley brought back students for four days in grades K through 2, instead of being limited to two days of in-person with the hybrid schedule.

Before last week, Holley already had four days of in-person learning in Pre-K, the alternative high school, and self-contained special education classes, where the class sizes are smaller.

Even if the state doesn’t reduce the minimum desk spacing to three feet, Holley plans to have grades 3 through 6 go to four days of in-person learning the week of April 5-9.

If the minimum spacing is reduced to 3 feet, Holley could move hybrid students in the Junior-Senior High School to four days of in-person learning. If the 3-foot distance is approved, Holley plans to move grades 7-8 to four days of in-person learning the week of April 12-16, and then the following week, April 19-23, the hybrid students in grades 9-12 would go from two to four days.

Holley will continue to have Wednesdays as remote only.

“The reasons for keeping Wednesdays as remote learning days include: providing time for staff to prepare and post lessons, and connect with our fully remote learners; allowing time to bring in small groups of students for academic intervention and related services; and for teachers to receive professional development, and update learning plans and curriculum,” Bartalo said in his letter today.

Holley will be reaching out to the fully remote student families prior to the start of the fourth quarter on April 19 to determine if they plan to stay remote or return to in-person school.

“Based on the number of students who remain fully remote and after evaluating how things are progressing with four days/week, we’ll determine if it’s possible to increase to five days/week for our in-person students,” Bartalo said.

The district superintendent said the situation and guidelines from the state have frequently been in flux, making it difficult for districts to plan. He expects the 3-foot change will be approved by the state, allowing for more students to be in class, in-person.

“We believe that this phase back-in approach is proactive, and gives staff time to prepare and adjust learning plans, bus schedules, and modify classroom and dining spaces based on new guidance from NYS,” Bartalo said. “We also hope it gives families time to prepare for this transition back to more in-person learning at Holley CSD.”