By Elise Fisch
The Florida Union Free School District Board of Education held a reorganizational meeting to discuss new details regarding this Fall semester’s reopening. The meeting took place on Thurs., July 16 in the S.S. Seward Institute cafeteria.
At long last, the District has received written guidelines from the New York State government, from both the Dept. of Education and the Dept. of Health, regarding safety procedures for reopening the schools to students.
Since the closings in March, the District administrators have been formulating plans for any plausible back-to-school scenario they can think of. As many as seven task forces were formed, each one dedicated to answering different questions that have arisen since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Temperature checks will be a daily requirement of students and staff before entering the school building, though the details of how and where temperatures are recorded have yet to be determined.
It is possible that this procedure could be done remotely, maybe from home before the individual arrives at the school, but accountability will prove difficult to confirm and keep track of. It was suggested that these check-ins be recorded by use of the Student ID card, but the particulars of that will need to be further looked into.
Superintendent Jan Jehring expects that school days will be more structured than ever before. With the need to control the flow of foot traffic within the buildings, students will likely remain in the same classroom for the duration of their day. Jehring hopes to utilize the outdoors as much as possible, making sure every student gets outside at least once, if not several times each day.
Principal Michael Rheaume of the S.S. Seward Institute says they will not be using any of the classrooms that don’t already have windows, noting the importance of both ventilation and the students’ access to fresh air and sunlight.
Facial coverings will be required by all students and staff, but it will also be a requirement that students are allotted time for a break (or several throughout the day) from having their faces covered. The district is expecting many kids will bring their own, but is prepared with over 50,000 paper masks to distribute to those in need, and will continue to secure access to PPE as the school year approaches.
Administrators anticipate an abbreviated school day for next year, citing apparent health concerns, the need for relief from the mask, and “screen fatigue” for those learning from their computer at home. Many after school clubs and activities are expected to be cut altogether, and those that remain will be altered until they can be carried out within the safety regulations of social distancing.
A questionnaire was sent out in order to help Board members learn what parents have most on their minds as they consider sending their children back to school. The number of families who may decide to keep their children home for remote learning is unknowable without this kind of survey.
The Board hopes all District families will return the answered questionnaire, and that this information will help the Board develop their plan for a “distant learning” program, which may become a requirement of all New York districts.
The next meeting will be held on Thurs., Aug. 20, at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria of the S.S. Seward Institute, located at 51 N. Main St in the Village of Florida.