RAVENA — The COVID-19 pandemic has cast an uncertain shadow on schools through the area. However, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District is trying to make some good memories for its students and keep things as close to normal as possible for its Sept. 14 return.
Superintendent Brian Bailey, Ed.D. has worked tirelessly with his staff to figure out how to bring students back in the classroom this fall. After a ton of feedback from parents and staff, he thinks they’ve figured out a good plan.
“We have worked out a plan to keep students as separated as possible,” Bailey said. “Our fifth graders will be taking classes in the middle school building this year, and our eighth graders will be going to the high school.”
Bailey emphasized despite the building change, students in fifth and eighth grades will be learning in a format similar to what they would experience in normal times. Fifth graders will be taught by a team of teachers who will move from classrooms instead of students. Eighth graders will also be taught by a team of teachers. The idea for the two grades moving is to allow for more room and as little movement as possible. Fifth graders will not have lockers and will not abide by the middle school bell schedule.
High schoolers will be moving between classrooms, but masks will be mandatory except when eating lunch and during designated mask breaks by staff.
“Our first priority was our most vulnerable learners, which includes our youngest and those who need special education,” Bailey said. “We found that our older learners are much easier to teach remotely.”
Older students in seventh grade and up, and those in pre-kindergarten, will go to school in blocks, or cohorts. Each group will be in the classroom for two days on an alternating schedule. Bailey said this system will help with the congestion in the hallways. Bailey added spacing requirements only allow for 15 students in each classroom.
RCS is also eliminating the nine-period school day. Middle schoolers will adhere to four blocks a day and high schoolers will have four and a half. This is also meant to help with movement in the hallways.
“We are learning a lot right now, more than many of us want to,” Bailey said. “But our teachers are coming back because they are dedicated to our students. We are sympathetic to the concerns of our families and we know parents need to get back to work.
“We are determined to use this trying experience as a time to grow and demonstrate the strength of our community,” he concluded. “We know there is a lot of change and we want to make sure everyone is ready and at their best by the time Sept. 14 rolls around.”
To read more about RCS’ re-opening plans, visit rcscsd.org.