Brian Bailey is superintendent of Ravena Coeymans Selkirk School District. His district, and those across New York, are required to submit a plan to the New York state Board of Regents on how to reopen schools next fall. It’s a diffcult task Bailey describes in this letter to district residents.
Even before the unusual end to our 19-20 school year, RCS began the process of considering how our schools would reopen this fall. There have been many unknowns placed in our path as we strive to find balance in our approach to meeting the needs of our students while protecting everyone’s safety. An RCS reopening committee has been meeting since the end of June. This committee is composed of more than 80 leaders, teachers, support staff, and parents. Their task has been to examine the best way to deliver instruction, operate safely, and support our human resources during this pandemic.
As I mentioned, there are many unknowns as we move into next year. While the governor has indicated that a decision about reopening in the fall will be made in the near future, he has tasked school districts to formulate plans for reopening that would outline expectations for social distancing as well as procedures to promote health and safety. RCS is preparing for a spectrum of possibilities, including everything from the continuation of remote learning to the full return of all staff and students. After the plan is fully developed, the district will share information, training, and support with all staff and families prior to the reopening of schools. This dynamic and diverse planning will serve us well as we respond to future orders from our governor or the Department of Health. We will be able to adjust our physical presence in our schools while maintaining the best instruction possible.
We want to be back in school. As we plan we will continue to focus on the health and safety of our children. There are other priorities, but none are as important. We will put protections in place and prepare for every eventuality with a sincere hope that we return to “normal” as soon as possible. That will be the best scenario for all of us. We learned a lot from being forced into remote learning last March and clearly heard the feedback from our community as we completely redefined how teaching and learning were delivered. In early August we will be asking for additional feedback from the members of our school community and hope that you choose to participate. Please stay safe and enjoy your summer.