By Dr. Robert I. Shaps
Superintendent of Schools
Our school reopening plans have now been posted on the District website; they are accessible through a link on our homepage and directly on each of our six school building sites. The plans cover every detail of the educational experience, including reopening and ongoing health and safety protocols, curriculum, student schedules for learning at each level (elementary, middle and high school), mental health, tech equity for all students, communications, and facilities. It is important to note, as we have mentioned previously, that these plans will not remain static. The plans will be revised, expanded and updated as we move forward in hopes of maximizing in-person learning, providing a robust educational program for all students and attending to our students’ social-emotional needs.
The planning process over the past several months has been extensive, with the health and safety of our students, staff and families being our top priority. Stakeholders from every facet of our school community (administrators, teachers, parents, students, community members, community partners, local health department officials and the Mamaroneck Teachers Association) have offered valuable feedback, which we have worked to incorporate.
Our plans incorporate recommendations and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). As required by the State, included are procedures for the wearing of masks, six-foot social distancing, and “cohorting” of students ( i.e. forming small groups of students who remain together during any time in school), in addition to facilities-related safety measures such as improving air quality through increased ventilation and filtration.
The plans also include protocols for health screening measures that must be conducted each morning before coming to school, isolating and dismissing students or staff should they become ill during the school day and addressing situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 or appears symptomatic.
The District is preparing for scenarios where one or more school buildings may need to close due to a significant number of students or staff testing positive for COVID-19 or a considerable regional increase in COVID-19 cases. In every instance, if one or some of our students or staff test positive, mandatory contact tracing will be conducted, and we will consult in collaboration with our local health officials and the CDC, as well as with our District Physician, Dr. Ann Engelland and our Nursing Coordinator Dina Murphy.
Our plans include three models for the elementary, middle and high school levels: 1) Hybrid, the most likely start-of-the-school-year scenario, 2) 100% remote learning, and 3) All in-person learning in the event that we are able to return to this model later in the school year.
We also are preparing for the possibility that during the course of the school year we may need to alternate between in-person and remote learning due to recommendations and guidance from our partnering agencies and stay-at-home orders from the Governor. The level of infection and the spread and response of the virus in our community also will determine our ability to operate schools.
While we long for the day when we can safely have all of our students back in our buildings full time, we do recognize and understand the uncertainty that exists for parents around sending children to school. We know that the learning environments in the fall will differ from what we used to consider “normal” learning, but we are working ambitiously and optimistically to make sure students and staff feel safe returning to our school campuses and that students continue to receive the high quality education Mamaroneck is known for and values.