Medina looks to reopen school with Pre-K to grades 6 in class each day

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 July 2020 at 7:18 pm

Students in grades 7-12 would alternate with in-person and remote learning

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Clifford H. Wise Middle School is pictured earlier this month in Medina. The school’s reopening plan would have seventh-graders move out of the middle school to the high school.

MEDINA – The school district submitted a reopening plan to the state today. Medina’s preferred model would have all students attend classes in person for grades prekindergarten through 6.

Students in grades 7 to 12 would alternate with in-person classes and remote learning, with two groups taking turns every school day between in-person and remote learning.

The school district would have liked to have in-person learning at all grade levels for all school days. But Medina needs to space out desks at least six feet apart inside the classrooms. Medina doesn’t have enough classroom space to do that.

The district chose to prioritize the younger grade levels for in-person learning. Medina will likely have 12 to 16 students per classroom in grades kindergarten through 6 to meet the social distancing guidelines, said Superintendent Mark Kruzynski.

“If we had the space and staff we would love to bring everyone back every day,” he said this afternoon.

File photo by Tom Rivers: A Mustang banner is displayed outside Medina High School.

The district believes the socialization for students in the younger grades is particularly important. The district also heard from parents that childcare would be a challenge if the elementary-age students had to stay home on some school days.

The district will shift one grade level at Wise Middle School to the high school. Seventh-graders are currently at Wise and they will go to the high school. That will free up more classrooms at the middle school.

Additional classroom sections will be opened in grades K to 6 by utilizing AIS, reading teachers and special area teachers in grade level capacities at the elementary level, the district stated in the reopening plan.

The district posted a 35-page reopening plan on its website this afternoon. (Click here to see the plan.)

The document was also sent to the State Education Department. All 700 districts in the state had until today to submit reopening plans to the state. Those plans had to districts’ strategies for providing in three ways: in-person, a hybrid with in-person and remote learning, and remote learning only.

State officials will review the plans and next week Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce whether schools can reopen with in-person learning in September.

Kruzynski said he is hopeful the governor will approve schools’ plans to provide education in person. Medina also surveyed parents to see how many don’t plan to send students back to school during the Covid-19 pandemic. Kruzynski said 21 percent don’t plan to have their children back inside the school based on a preliminary survey. That is similar to the state average of 20 percent, the superintendent said.

Medina will have teachers work with students who take their classes remotely. The district has Chromebooks for all students who need them and teachers will have staff development in August to be better prepared for remote learning.

Medina last school year had the campus close to students on March 16 and the schools never reopened for in-person classes.

The district is asking parents to notify the district by Aug. 14 if their children won’t be taking classes in school. The district also needs to know which students will need rides on the bus. The district’s reopening plan calls for one student in each bus seat, and masks must be worn on busses.

The district’s plan also calls for more frequent cleaning, including a daily disinfection of buses with more frequent cleaning in between bus runs of high-touch areas such as door handles, hand rails, bus seats and seat backs.

• Staggered schedules: The district will also stagger the schedules at the three buildings offering in-person education. The proposed schedules include:

  • For all Pre-K through grade 3 students, 7:35 a.m to 1:35 p.m.
  • For students in grades 4-6, 7:45 a.m. to 1:45 PM.
  • For students in grades 7-12, there will be alternating in-person education from 7:55 a.m. to 1:55 p.m. (Students will receive virtual education on days they are not physically present in school.)

• More WiFi on campus: Medina is also pursuing high-speed outdoor WiFi to completely encompass and cover the school grounds/green spaces, as well as parking lots. Kruzynski said many homes and sections in the community don’t have high-speed internet.

“This will allow, not only classes to go outside and exercise social distancing, but allow for a central location after hours if students and their parents need to come to download or upload any necessary assignments,” the district states in the reopening plan. “It is our goal to have these systems fully operational sometime in mid-late fall.”

The district will also provide Chromebooks for in grades 4 through 12 as a take-home device. Any student needing a device in K-3 will be allocated a device for use at home if virtual instruction is chosen by the family.

• Pre-K: Medina also is planning to offer the prekindergarten program in the library to allow for increased social distance requirements. Teaching centers will be used by individual children and each child will have their own individual supply box for classroom materials to be used daily.

At the early level, a big emphasis will be placed on teaching children proper hand washing, social distancing and use of masks.

Children in the UPK program are provided a meal each day. The classroom will be used as a place for all children to eat with children seated at socially distant tables throughout the room.

• Remote Instruction: If Medina needs to shift to a remote format, students will already be entered into a Google Classroom digital platform. The Google Classroom will be a place for teachers to include daily activities, videos and a set of lessons which parents will be able to do with their children. Google Classroom will also be a portal for parent-teacher communications.

• Minimizing movement of students in schools: Medina will minimize having student sin big groups and from moving about the buildings. This potentially means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities.

• Special-area subjects: Art, music, physical education may be pushed into the classroom. “Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. We will adhere to 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity,” the district stated in the reopening plan.

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