The Pine Bush, Wallkill and Valley Central School Districts returned to hybrid in-person instruction this week.
After a nearly two-month pause, the Pine Bush Central School District welcomed back students into its buildings.
Not only did students in grades pre-K through six resume hybrid in-person learning, students in grades seven through 12 who chose the hybrid model of learning returned to buildings for the first time since March 2020 when the pandemic hit. Students who remain on a remote schedule will interact with their teachers and classmates through an online platform on their respective days.
Students who return to in-person instruction will follow an A/B schedule. Half of the students who chose the in-person hybrid model will be in the buildings on A days– Tuesdays and Thursdays– and the other half will attend on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays for all in-person and virtual learners will remain Mobile Mondays.
School days will look significantly different than they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Buses will be half full and students will enter through designated entrances. In addition, students will have their temperatures taken before they enter the building. Seating in all cafeterias will be at desks, which are distanced from each other.
The district’s testing plan is under development. They are in the process of surveying all students and staff to determine who is willing to be tested. Pine Bush is also applying to receive rapid COVID-19 tests that are a less invasive nasal swab. They are partnering with Cornerstone Family Healthcare to come to the school buildings to administer tests.
Like Pine Bush, Wallkill has split in-person hybrid students in grades K-12 into two groups. Group A will attend school buildings on Monday and Tuesday while Group B will go to school on Wednesday and Thursday. Online instruction will take place on Friday.
Currently the district is not in a designated zone requiring them to test the school community to remain open. However, they have completed several measures to prepare the district if they fall into a designated zone.
All nurses have been trained to administer the COVID-19 test. The district has secured testing kits from the Orange County Department of Health. In addition, the board of education approved the Memorandum of Understanding with Ulster County and is waiting to receive the countersigned copy from them.
The district is very close to meeting the 20 percent threshold of consent to test at all of their schools under the current requirements for yellow and orange zones. If the district does fall within a designated zone and a parent did not give consent to test on school property, they have the option to have their child tested privately off-site.
In light of the excitement regarding the district opening for hybrid in-person learning, Wallkill Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle noted that changes could be made to the instructional schedule this school year.
“With the return to in-person learning coupled with the continuation of new cases and new quarantine requirements, at some point, we may experience a disruption to in-person learning due to a staffing shortage,” he wrote in a letter to parents and guardians on Jan. 15.
Valley Central teachers, administrators and staff have been working hard to bring students back into school buildings.
If a child is a 100 percent online student, they will continue with that model. If a child is part of team in-person and they attended school five days a week before the pause, they will continue with that model. This team consists of self-contained and Alternative Learning Center at Maybrook students. Team 1 will attend in-person instruction on Mondays and Thursdays while Team 2 will attend in-person instruction on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The district is starting the process to bring students back in for in-person instruction on Wednesdays. In order to work toward equalizing the number of days Team 1 and Team 2 are provided with in-person instruction, for the month of February Team 1 will attend in-person school each Wednesday, excluding the holiday week. This includes Feb. 3, 10 and 24.