by Dave Warner

The Little Falls City School District has released its comprehensive plan detailing how they intend to open schools after Labor Day. In a letter from the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Keith T. Levatino, he stated, “Over the past weeks, the district has been formulating its reopening plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The guiding force behind the development of this plan has been the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff.”

“To this end, we have convened a reopening committee consisting of administration, Board of Education members, our district medical director, faculty, staff, and parents. We have taken data from both parent and faculty surveys to inform this process,” he said.

Local districts were required to submit their reopening plans to the state Friday, and initial decisions on the plans were expected from New York officials this week. On Sunday, Governor Cuomo said, “If the parents don’t feel comfortable, they’re not going to send their children and we’ll accomplish nothing if we open the schools but a significant number of parents decide to keep their children home.”

Part of the plan includes:

  • Checking each student’s temperature every day upon arrival at school. Parents must keep children home if they are not feeling well or have a fever.
  • The district will be reopening schools under a hybrid model for attendance. Grades K-12 will be divided into two cohorts, by families as much as possible. Cohort A will attend in-person instruction Mondays and Tuesdays and will attend remotely on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Cohort B will attend remotely on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and in-person on Thursdays and Fridays. A letter will be sent out to parents letting them know which cohort they will be in as soon as the principals have it figured out.
  • Chromebooks will be distributed to all students in grades K-12 at the beginning of the school year. This will facilitate the remote instruction aspect of the hybrid model or in the event that the school has to return to a fully remote instruction model. The district will continue to work with families with unreliable we-fi.

Levatino said, “The most important aspect of our reopening plan is that it continues to be a changing document.”

He said that they are basically looking to divide the student population in half. “By reducing the numbers, you are reducing mass density and they’ll be able to implement social distancing rules within the school. Students will be working on assignments in the home setting on the days they are not in school. There’s an expectation that school work will be given and taught and completed on those days when they’re not in school and be ready to go on the day that they return.”

“We’re trying to figure this out. We’re trying to align siblings and do other things to make life as easy as we can for parents,” he stated.

The school district is not calling the days that they are not in school distance learning. “It is learning from home with work that was given to them. They can go through Google Classrooms and look at the assignment that the teacher puts up. It’s not considered online, or distance learning,” stated Levatino.

He said that these are not considered days off, that they are going to school five days a week, but only in a physical school building two days a week.

The district wants to beef up the K-2 instructional time, even more, so they’re going to analyze data up until October to see if they can make K-2 come in all four days. “The challenge is keeping social distancing on the buses. Right now we can’t do it because there would be too many on the bus,” he said.

“We’re trying to see how many will be riding the bus, and how many parents will be bringing them, to see if we can up their instructional time,” stated Levatino. “The other thing we’re looking at is the data from the virus. We’ll see where we are at that point. For all we know, we could be closed because of the virus.”

Levatino said that there was a lot of criticism about having to have their plans in at the end of last week, but having to wait until this week to hear if the governor will make any changes to what will happen next month. He also said that the plan we are looking at (below) is a little different than what they had to send into the state.

“With that being said, the governor has us doing all this work and I can’t imagine then that he would change things and then decide that we’re going all virtual, although we are ready. If he said, nope, not going back, it’s going to be like it was in the spring, we’re going to be even more ready because our virtual plan calls for it,” stated Levatino.

He said that some school districts are doing a Monday through Thursday model. “We opted to follow a couple of schools in Pennsylvania and skip Wednesday. During the day and after school there is cleaning going on. However, Wednesday is going to be a thorough above and beyond cleaning day in all of our buildings. We want to make sure that everything is impeccable when that other cohort comes back on Thursday.”

The break in the week also gives teachers the opportunity to plan and adjust for the second group of students. “They’ll have a day to have contact with the students if they need support,” he stated.

He said the if the governor wanted grades 7-12 to stay home learn virtually and K-6 to be in-person full time, that would put a strain on the district.

“I would have never thought we would have had to experience this,” Levatino said.

Letter from the Superintendent of Schools:

Letter From Sup

List of Actions for Students and Reopening:

List of Actions for Students and Reopening

School reopening plan summary:

SCHOOL REOPENING PLAN SUMMARY

LFCSD Full School reopening plan:

LFCSD School Reopening Plan