Goshen Schools Reopening Committee work is underway

As many of you are aware, schools throughout the country face significant uncertainty and a range of potential scenarios pertaining to the reopening of schools in the fall. The Goshen Central School District is hard at work developing its school reentry plan, ensuring the best possible education for all students, while we wait to receive definitive guidance from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Earlier today, Governor Cuomo announced at his press briefing that he will make a decision on whether or not to reopen schools in the fall by early August.

Cuomo also said the state will release finalized reopening guidance for school districts on July 13. School districts will then submit their safety plans for reopening by July 31.

Presently, more than 50 volunteers of students, parents, teachers, staff members, board members and administrators have joined the Goshen Schools Reopening Committee and will work collaboratively throughout the next few weeks. These volunteers make up the membership of six sub committees, chaired by a district faculty member or administrator, that will focus on all aspects of the school reopening process in light of COVID-19.

The New York State Board of Regents has requested that each district develop committees to study and make recommendations as to how to safely reopen schools. While state guidance surrounding school reopening is not yet available, the district must prepare for the multiple ways that school may be conducted in September. This may include:

  • Remote learning – school buildings are closed and learning occurs at home
  • In-person instruction – school buildings are open to students
  • Hybrid learning – a combination of both remote learning and in-person instruction

The Reopening Committee will make recommendations related to how schools reopen, as well as practices and protocols designed to mitigate risk, provide for the safety and health of students and employees, promote equity and ensure the best possible academic experience for students. Final decisions on many matters rests with the Board of Education.

It is expected that all reopening considerations will be shaped by state and federal guidance, consultation with local health departments and coordination efforts among the region’s schools.

“Given the nature of the COVID-19 situation, this will be a fluid process based on the latest information and state and federal guidance,” said Superintendent Daniel Connor. “No decisions about how school will reopen in the fall have been made. At this time, there has been no change to the school calendar for 2020-21, which includes the first day of school on Wednesday, September 2.”

The subcommittees are as follows:

Teaching and Learning

This group will focus on models of learning, scheduling, instructional planning and learning plans for students, and will also identify needs for staff accordingly. Facilitator is Assistant Superintendent Jason Carter.

Social-Emotional

This group’s focal point will involve ensuring support for all students and adults in the area of social-emotional learning. Facilitators are Goshen High School Assistant Principal/Director of Athletics Matthew O’Brien and Goshen High School Health Teacher Lyn Abrams.

Health & Safety

This group’s target will focus on hygiene, personal protective equipment, social distancing and all other safety and security considerations. Facilitator is Building and Grounds Director James Riley.

Special Education & English Language Learners

This group will focus on the unique needs of our special education and ELL students. Facilitators are Director of Pupil Personnel Services Heather Hendershot and Assistant Director Alyssa Marino.

Operations

The core topics of this group will be transportation and food service issues. Facilitators are Transportation Director Karen Wells and Food Services Director Alan Muhlnickel.

Digital Equity and Access

The target of this group is to ensure that all students and staff have digital access to instruction and support. Facilitators are Computer Network Administrator James Sterett and K-12 Technology Coordinator Jonathan Redeker.

According to Cuomo, New York state will review school district plans the week of August 1-7. The state then will approve, deny, or suggest changes to those plans. A decision to reopen schools to students statewide in the fall will also be made by the state at that time, he said.

“I know parents want a decision now, they talk to me too,” Cuomo said. “But we want to make that decision with the best available data. The facts change here day to day, week to week. As we see a week could be a lifetime with this virus.”