Fayetteville-Manlius School District officials are considering expanding the district’s current hybrid instructional model to include four or five days of in-person learning for students each week beginning Monday, April 19.
During a March 8 F-M Board of Education meeting, F-M Superintendent of Schools Craig J. Tice presented Onondaga County Health Department’s policy proposal for increasing in-person instruction in component school districts. The proposal modifies social distancing requirements in schools from six feet to three feet and requires a partition be used when students are seated at desks or tables that are less than six feet apart.
By reducing the distance between student desks to three feet, the district can offer more days of in-person instruction. For those families who prefer for their children to not attend school in-person because of COVID-19 health concerns, the district will continue to offer through the end of the 2020-21 school year a fully remote instructional model.
The district will continue to follow the health and safety protocols outlined in its school reopening plan, including requiring face masks on school grounds, limiting visitors to district facilities and encouraging proper handwashing and use of hand sanitizer. The social distancing requirement between adults or between adults and children will remain at six feet whenever possible.
Barring any challenges with receiving partitions, the district anticipates implementing the expanded in-person learning model no sooner than April 19, which marks the start of the fourth marking period. The district will continue to follow its existing hybrid instructional model until then.
To ensure staff members have time to work with and deliver print materials to remote students, a “phase-in” approach to the expanded learning model may be employed initially. If the district follows this approach, students will attend school in-person four days each week and continue to receive asynchronous instruction remotely on Wednesdays.
As the district transitions to more in-person instruction, students may see slight modifications to schedules for extra help, clubs and activities, Tice said.
Families have until March 12 to select the instructional model their household students will follow for the remainder of this school year.
During the board meeting, Tice said the county has submitted the first of multiple orders for partitions; it has not been determined how the supply will be distributed among component school districts.
In order to safely accommodate the revised social distancing guideline, the district is looking at installing semi-permanent partitions on elementary school desks and providing portable barriers to all secondary-level students.
The district is no longer exploring whether a face shield visor worn in addition to a face covering could be an adequate barrier substitute as the county’s guidance specifically mentions partitions.
Arrival and Dismissal
Depending on the number of students who require district transportation, buses for each school attendance zone may need to make multiple trips per school to reduce the risk of virus transmission among passengers. Similar to classrooms, each bus run will have its own student seating chart to ensure passengers for the duration of the trip are maintaining social distance and to assist with contact tracing efforts.
Staggered drop-off and pick-up procedures will be maintained at each school.
With the expanded model and the influx of more students, individual temperature screenings will no longer be conducted upon students’ arrival to school. Instead, each family will be responsible for performing the thermal screening at home, prior to the start of the school day. This will allow staff members to assist with other school building operations in the morning.
As the planning process continues, the district will communicate to families any new information and important updates regarding implementation of the expanded in-person instruction model.