YORK – Students and staff at York Central School were among those across the region who returned to the classroom on Monday to begin the 2020-21 school year.
“Everything has been going very well and I think that both the students and parents are excited to be back,” said Superintendent David Furletti.
For many, it will the first time since mid-March that students will be in the building after schools across the state closed to in-person learning and went to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then Furletti says the district has been working on a plan to bring students back into the classrooms and to also do it safety.
“We want people to be comfortable when they come back to school,” said Furletti.
Students in Pre-kindergarten to fourth grade will be coming to school five days a week for in-person learning. However, student in grades five to 12 will have a combination of classroom and remote learning in their schedules.
“If students are coming in on Monday and Tuesdays, then they will be remote learning on Wednesday, Thursdays and Fridays. The gold group is the flip of that with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday remote learning and in person on Thursday and Friday,” said Furletti.
In addition to classroom days being different Furletti said the time in each students schedule has also been adjusted.
“We have adjusted the schedule and we have some longer periods of time, where normally we had a nine-period schedule, we now brought that down to five so that each of the classes is longer. So when the students are here they have more time in person with the teachers,” said Furletti.
The school will also see fewer students and more teachers in the hallways this year.
“One of the things that we are doing is we are limiting student movement in the halls. The staff will be helping and we are really trying to limit the number of students in the hallway at one time,” said Furletti.
One of the ways he said the district is hoping to slow down the foot traffic at the school is by adding an additional drop off.
“This year we have gone from two drop-offs to three drop-offs to limit the number of people coming into the building at the same time. We are working with all of our staff to keep that social distance and still have students engage in the learning process at the same time,” said Furletti,
To help maintain proper social distancing between students Furletti said lunch is also being served different this year to students.
“Lunch will be in the classrooms,” Furletti said. “The way it will work is lunch will be brought to the classrooms. In our classrooms most of the classes are no more than 12 students. They are all six feet away to begin with and that will be the setting for both breakfast and lunch.”
Physical education classes at the school will continue but Furletti said there will be some changes made to the class. Activities will be modified, he said.
“We want to make sure than physical activity is part of students routine. We know that the young learners need to get up and move around to get out some of their physical energy,” said Furletti.
Besides physical changes made at the York Central School District this year Furletti said there will be more conversations between school officials, parents and students.
“We also want to answer any questions that people might have. The questions that some students have might not be the questions that we think that they have, might not be the questions that they actually have. We are trying to keep as many dialogues going as possible,” said Furletti.
“The social and emotional impact has been one of the things that has been on the front of our minds,” he said. “We are trying to make that transition for people coming back in, as smooth as possible.”