Return to Headlines

Superintendent's Message: District Submits Reopening Plan

Thank you for your patience as we have worked to develop a plan for reopening school that complies with the guidance issued by the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department. We appreciate the feedback provided by a wide range of stakeholders through surveys, emails, phone calls, committee meetings, and virtual town hall meetings.  Your questions, concerns and suggestions have assisted us in creating a plan that complies with the guidance documents and meets the needs of our community to the extent possible under the current circumstances.

»VIEW: Midlakes 2020 Reopening Plan

The health and safety of students, staff, and visitors (as defined by the NYS guidance documents) will drive all decisions regarding the reopening of school.  It is the District’s goal to return all students to campus and in-person instruction as much, as quickly, and as safely as possible. The guidance documents create limitations of space, time, and staff capacity.   For example, daily temperature taking and health screenings, wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, following specific hand hygiene practices, and performing frequent cleaning of classrooms and common areas will all be required.      

Since the District will be implementing these health and safety protocols for the first time, we will take a cautious approach to bringing students on campus while we evaluate and improve those procedures with a limited number of grade levels.  Therefore, as we implement and improve our daily practices, it will be necessary for some students to start the school year in full-time remote instruction. The NYS guidance documents require that we prioritize our youngest students, our special education students, and our English Language Learners for in-person instruction.  We will work to bring more grade levels on campus as soon as possible according to the health and safety guidelines.

The District will start the school year by bringing students in UPK, kindergarten, first, second, and third grades on campus in a hybrid model. Students in these grade levels will spend two days per week on campus for in-person instruction (Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday) and three days per week learning remotely from home. The hybrid model is explained in more detail in the various sections of the reopening plan.  All other grade levels, unless specified below, will begin the school year in 100% remote instruction. Whenever possible, teachers will teach remotely from their classrooms to provide easier access to instructional materials and promote more structured schedules and learning formats.

All special education students assigned to 12:1:1 and 15:1:1 programs (grades K-12), will attend in-person instruction on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Special education students in the consultant teacher direct or resource model will participate in the remote and/or hybrid models along with their grade level peers. English Language Learners not already included in the abovementioned grade levels/groups will receive some in-person instruction according to a schedule to be determined. All students will learn remotely on Wednesdays, to allow time for extra cleaning, staff planning and training, and adjustment of health and safety procedures.  

In the weeks ahead, we will be reaching out to families to collect important information that will assist us in planning the many details for the opening of school.  Thank you, in advance, for providing this important information when requested:

  • A preference for 100% remote instruction, to the extent possible based on staffing and available resources.
  • Documentation of a medical necessity for 100% remote instruction.
  • A need for children of different ages and grade levels to attend in-person instruction on the same days, as more grade levels are eventually returned to campus in the hybrid model.
  • Family plans/intentions regarding bus or personal transportation. All parents are encouraged to transport their children to school, if possible, to maximize space on our buses.  Bus transportation will be provided to all those who need it.  

The first day of school/instruction for students will be delayed to Monday, September 14, to allow more time for staff to complete necessary and required trainings and prepare for in-person and remote instruction.  We will post an updated school calendar on the school website following the August 17 Board of Education meeting. We are also planning for staggered start and end times to accommodate social distancing on our buses.   Bus routes may also be adjusted to manage the number of students on each bus.  We will communicate detailed information regarding start and end times, bus schedules, and bus routes as soon as possible. 

The reopening plan, as currently posted on our website, is a work in progress.  Since the NYS guidance requires us to rethink and adjust nearly every aspect of how we educate and keep our students safe and healthy, we still have a lot of work to do.  This message contains only some of the major elements of our plan.  Please be sure to navigate the different sections of the reopening plan for more details, and revisit the website frequently for updates.  We will continue to update and improve the plan (based on observations, feedback, experience, and available resources) until the first day of school, and beyond.  Specific processes and procedures referenced in the plan but not yet included will be added as soon as possible. 

Most importantly, we appreciate the cooperation of our students and families in following and promoting the procedures and expectations included in the NYS guidance and our reopening plan.  By working together to promote the health and safety of all members of our school community, we hope to return more students to campus in the hybrid model as soon as possible.  While we have no specific timeline for bringing more grade levels to campus in the hybrid model, we will do so as soon as we can ensure the health and safety of additional students. 

Please direct any questions regarding the reopening plan to reopeningschools@midlakes.org. We will answer your questions and share new information as quickly as possible.  Thank you for your continued patience and support.

Sincerely,

Matt Sickles
Superintendent