Warwick Valley Central School District received nearly 2,300 responses to its recent Reopening Schools Survey, which was delivered to parents via email. The survey laid out the basics of five reopening models for consideration. The responses have helped gauge parental preferences regarding their students’ safe return to school in the fall – including busing – and will now inform the Reopening Task Force’s subsequent steps and decisions.
“The Reopening Task Force and the Warwick Valley Central School District would like to thank the community for its input, and we look forward to using this insight as the task force weighs reopening models and makes its recommendation to the district,” said Superintendent Dr. David Leach.
The majority of respondents indicated that they would prefer to send their students back to school based on one of two models: a hybrid model that includes distance and in-person classroom learning; or a traditional full-time in-person learning model.
The breakdown of the survey’s key questions were presented on the district website, www.warwickvalleyschools.com, with the specific questions and pie charts indicating the results.
When asked about their intentions regarding sending children back to school in the fall, 49.5 percent indicated they would wait to see what the District’s plan looks like before deciding; 43.3 percent plan to send their children back regardless of the plans or circumstances; and 7.2 percent said they will keep children home from school until there are reliable treatments or vaccines for Covid-19.
A follow-up question asked respondents to consider the importance of safety measures that will likely be in place for any school reopening models that involve in-person learning including social/physical distancing and the wearing of masks. Forty-two percent strongly agreed with that premise, 22.7% agreed, 15.6% were not sure, 11.2 % disagreed and 8.4% strongly disagreed.
With 64.7 percent of responders in agreement that responsible safety measures are essential for any sound reopening plan, the task force has already ruled out utilizing any reopening models that do not involve effective physical distancing. Respondents were then asked to rank five basic learning models proposed in the survey by their personal preference. It was noted that public health guidance/circumstances may prohibit some options.
The final weighted ranking based on all 2,298 responses indicated a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction with alternating days as the first choice. The second choice was all students receiving in-person instruction daily followed by the third choice of a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction with alternating weeks. The fourth ranked model has the youngest students in school daily (socially distanced) with older students mostly virtual. The least preferable model is all students receiving daily remote instruction.
A majority of 55.3 percent also said they plan to have their students ride district buses, with another 38 percent saying they will opt for personal transportation.
The Reopening Task Force will now consider the collected input as it selects a base model from which it will develop and recommend a formalized reopening plan for September. Once the task force selects a model, families will have another opportunity to provide their input and concerns through a second survey.
The task force – composed of school staff and community members – will make its recommendation based on community input and guidelines laid out by the state and made available to districts on July 13. Of course, any model may need to change based on circumstances that are evolving day-to-day (i.e., if another regional outbreak occurs).
On Mon., July 13, Governor Cuomo shared that if a region of the state is in Phase IV and the average daily infection rate of Covid-19 is 5 percent or less, schools in that region can reopen. School districts must submit plans to the New York State Education Department by July 31. Regional decisions on school openings will be made during the first week of August.