In the age of coronavirus, many aspects of our lives have undergone drastic changes in a shockingly short period of time. Although it is astonishing how much has been accomplished since quarantine began in mid-March, it is without a doubt that more preparation time would have helped the school system make arrangements for this disaster. In the past few months, teachers and students alike have learned how to effectively transition to an at-home working environment as administrators look forward to how Covid-19 will affect the 2020-2021 academic year. While many students are eager to get back to school, it is crucial that we understand just how unpredictable the virus is. Although a full return to school this coming September would be optimal, it may be impossible given the circumstances.
“We are waiting for guidelines from the governor and the NYS Education Department as to the conditions we must prepare to re-open school buildings as the pandemic continues,” District Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Personnel, Dr. Garcia, said. “There are way too many unknowns that complicate the situation. However, schools expect guidance from the State sometime in June, and are expected to submit reopening plans sometime in July (with a decision by the Governor whether to re-open school buildings sometime in August).”
Aside from the upcoming year, many members of the Pelham community are wondering if future disaster protocols will be improved based on what administrators learned throughout quarantine. While the school community has certainly advanced in terms of emergency response, technology, and at-home learning, specific disaster protocols cannot be changed without direct orders from Governor Cuomo. Therefore, future district policy will remain the same until specific orders are handed down from the state government.
“Our scheduling and approach to distance learning evolved over time. We learned from other school districts, but frankly, many learned from us as well. However, we understand the need to make the distance learning experience even better for children and families should we need to do so again next fall,” Dr. Garcia said.
However the upcoming school year takes place, the newfound comfort with technology such as Google Meet coupled with improvement in the ability of students and teachers to successfully work from home will likely help advance learning in and outside of the classroom.