District Studies “Return to School Full Time” Survey Responses & Forms Committee
It’s now mid year, and Avoca CSD school leaders recently reached out to staff and parents through online surveys and public board meetings as a way to garner feedback to a question many are asking: Should Avoca CSD students and staff return to in-person school full time? This question has been on the minds of many since Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that all available data indicates that the rate of virus transmission in schools is low.
Currently, Avoca CSD Superintendent Stephen Saxton is in the process of reaching out to staff who have expressed an interest in being on a Return to School Committee. The committee would be charged with, among other things, taking a deep dive into both survey responses, looking at reopening the building from a logistical standpoint, and weighing the pros and cons of reopening the building in grade level groupings, fully or continuing to follow the hybrid instructional model.
Returning students to school full time could occur in stages with some students returning full time while others continue to follow the hybrid model until infection rates around the region continue to drop. The details of who returns full time and the logistics of this phased-in model would need to be further fleshed out, but it’s one of the options that the committee could research.
“It’s important to know that no decisions have been made at this point,” says Saxton. “We want this to be a collaborative decision which is why we conducted public surveys. The next step is for us to discuss the responses, assess the building space to ensure we can meet the NYSDOH reopening requirements (masks and/or six-foot social distance in classrooms), followed by a recommendation to the Board based on our findings and discussions.”
Both survey responses generated many valid questions. We’ve created a Frequently Asked Questions section on our website. This page will be updated as new questions are asked. Anyone who has questions should send an email to Rosalie Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a recent Board of Education meeting, Saxton stressed that the surveys are just one factor that goes into helping make the decision about returning to school. He also shared in-house data related to positive cases and mandatory quarantine, stating that from the beginning of the year until now (early February) there have been three staff members and eight students who have been confirmed positive. This resulted in 17 other staff members and 97 other students being placed in mandatory quarantine. When compared to districts equal in size to Avoca, these numbers are relatively low.
“We know that bringing kids back to school full time is the right thing to do and that ultimately is our end goal,” adds Saxton. “But we also have to be able to do that in a safe manner and feel confident that we can continue to adhere to our in-person health guidelines that have been resulting in success. Returning to school full time won’t happen in one or two weeks. A great deal of planning needs to go into this so that we do it correctly and safely.”