The East Greenbush Central School District Board of Education approved the return of first and second grades for full time in-person learning at its public meeting on Wednesday evening. First graders are scheduled to return full time starting Monday, March 29 and second graders are scheduled to return full time starting Tuesday, April 13.
The Full Remote program will still be available to families who choose that option.
The district has operated a K-12 Hybrid Model for much of the school year. Last month, in recognition of declining infection rates in Rensselaer County and the Capital Region, the Board of Education approved the full time return of Kindergarten students and eliminated Live Virtual Wednesdays for students in grades 1-5.
“We are encouraged that our district will now be able to provide all of our K-2 students with five days of in person instruction per week as we study additional ways we can offer students in all grade levels more direct support,” said Superintendent Jeff Simons.
“This step is one more sign of progress moving forward during this school year,” Mr. Simons continued. “We are encouraged by declining infection rates, increases in access of school staff to the vaccine and pending further direction from New York State, there is hope on the horizon to restore full in-person learning for all K-12 students in the Fall.”
The district needs to make a variety of adjustments in each elementary school to safely bring back first and second grade students and maintain the 6 foot social distancing requirements. Some of those adjustments include:
- Teaching art, music and library in regular classrooms to free up those larger special classrooms for additional students
- Removing permanent furniture, including cubbies that are bolted to floors and walls to create more space for student desks
- Expanding lunch service hours and serving lunch for some classes in their regular classrooms
- Hiring additional teaching assistants and monitors
“These changes are in line with our efforts to provide as much in-person learning as we can for our children who are our youngest learners,” Mr. Simons said at the meeting.
The district will continue to evaluate opportunities to bring back students from other grade levels, including the middle school and high school, based on student needs and space availability.
School Reopening Discussion
During the Board of Education meeting, Mr. Simons also discussed the current social distancing restrictions that are set by the NYS Department of Health, and how the 6 foot rule prevents the return of all students for full time in-person learning. Mr. Simons said the district is advocating for the state to reevaluate the school reopening guidelines, which were established last summer.
“We are aware of conversations that have occurred with the Department of Health where Commissioner Zucker has indicated that the social distancing requirements and other requirements are being discussed,” Mr. Simons said. “But there has been no decision and no formal information communicated in any direct manner with counties or schools that we have the ability, either now or in anticipation of September, to shorten the social distancing requirements.”
“We are ready to bring all of the kids in for in-person learning when we have the clearance and the direction from the state,” Mr. Simons said.