Letter from Superintendent Case on reopening plans

  • Superintendent Barbara Case shared the following letter with parents and the General Brown community on June 30, 2020:

    Dear General Brown Parents and Community,

    I hope this letter finds you well, and you are able to enjoy some very important family time as we navigate through the various stages of the pandemic. We know that since the school closure in March, families have faced unprecedented challenges. As we all look forward to school reopening, we recognize and appreciate your patience and willingness to collaborate with us. We know that in order for schools to reopen safely, we will all need to work together. Our primary focus will always be the physical and emotional safety of our students and staff. We continue to use the focus areas and goals of the Strategic Plan 2019-2022 to help in our daily decision making. The General Brown Central School District is committed to providing a safe and nurturing school community no matter how instruction is provided to your children.

    The General Brown Reopening Committee, which is comprised of employees from across the district, has shared several virtual meetings to gather input for our reopening plan. We will continue to meet as we look at issues from district and building-specific perspectives. In addition, we gathered information from 455 families through a parent survey. Some highlights of the results can be found on the school website at https://www.gblions.org/Page/1632.

    Moreover, the district has worked closely with other regional schools, BOCES, Jefferson County officials, and various agencies to plan for our three-part reopening plan, as required by New York State Education Department. We have planned for in-person learning (all students physically attend school using social distancing guidelines), remote learning (all learning is done remotely), and hybrid learning (a combination of remote and in-person learning).

    Governor Cuomo is scheduled to announce sometime during the first week in August if in-person learning will be permitted in the region based on infection rate data. No matter which model we reopen with, we must ensure that learning is taking place every day, and attendance will be taken daily. We must also be prepared to transition to remote learning at any time should Jefferson County Department of Health, Jefferson County officials, or the Governor, by Executive Order, deem schools must be closed for any in-person learning due to the pandemic. Our reopening plan must be submitted to NYSED and NYS Department of Health for approval. It can also be found on the school website at https://www.gblions.org/Page/1633.

    As we reopen school, many requirements will be implemented to safeguard against further transmission of the COVID-19 virus. A brief overview of some of the requirements include:

    • Students and staff must have temperatures taken daily. Parents will be expected to answer COVID-19 related screening questions for their children frequently, although not daily.
    • Schools must ensure students and staff are protected by requiring social distancing of six feet and face masks/coverings will be required at least when social distancing cannot be maintained. There are exceptions to these guidelines, and we will be training students and staff on the importance of focusing on safe practices to promote the health and safety of all members of the General Brown school community.
    • The district has purchased washable masks for the students. We have purchased additional cleaning and disinfectant supplies, as well as gloves and other PPE which will be available in each building for use.
    • Overall increased cleaning and disinfecting in all areas with special attention to frequently touched areas throughout the school.
    • Hand sanitizer will be available in every classroom and in common areas.
    • We will have reduced capacity on our buses, and students and staff will be required to wear face masks/coverings for the entire time they are on the bus.

    I encourage you to review the guidance released by NYSED at http://www.nysed.gov/news/2020/state-education-department-issues-guidance-reopen-new-york-state-schools.

    When preparing our reopening plan, we have considered many required mandates by the NYS DOH, NYSED, and Governor Cuomo. Please know that careful consideration went into the plan, and throughout the month of August, we will be finalizing operational plans to carry out the mandates. However, the operational plans are subject to change as federal and state requirements and guidance change. Many of your questions will be answered in the plan; however, many specific details will not be available until we work through many variables that must be considered.

    At this time, we anticipate we will be returning to school using the hybrid learning model because we cannot maintain proper social distancing requirements without reducing our daily student population by 50%. Therefore, we will assign students to one of two teams — Team A will physically attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Team B will physically attend school on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be virtual days of instruction for all students. We will seek to plan that children in families will be assigned to the same team.

    We respectfully request that you do not contact the school district to request that your child be placed on a specific team. There are variables that we must consider in order to balance the teams, and we will not be able to accommodate specific requests without displacing another family and disrupting the balance of the teams as it relates to classroom size and attendance, transportation, food service, and instructional needs.

    We recognize this is not the perfect solution, but we are being very thoughtful to accommodate the many needs of families, as well as the district.

    More information will be forthcoming within the next couple weeks. Please be sure to visit the website often for updates. Thank you for your ongoing patience and willingness to collaborate with us. We are in this together, and, collectively, we can do amazing things to support our children and community.

    Sincerely,

    Barbara J. Case

    Superintendent of Schools