Schools Can Open. That’s the Easy Part.

Haldane, Garrison, Beacon work on the details

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Aug. 7 gave public schools the green light to reopen next month and his office last week approved plans submitted by hundreds of districts, including Beacon, Haldane and Garrison, to do so as safely as possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cuomo said he would allow schools to reopen as long as their region had an infection rate below 5 percent on a 14-day average. The rate in the Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Putnam and Dutchess counties, has hovered around 1 percent. Infection rates also have been relatively low in Dutchess (which tested 1,362 people on Wednesday [Aug. 12] and had nine positives, or 0.7 percent) and Putnam (which tested 360 and had five positives, or 1.4 percent).

Read Our Q&As with Superintendents

Matt Landahl, Beacon
Philip Benante, Haldane
Carl Albano, Garrison

Cuomo last month asked every district to submit detailed reopening plans to his office for in-person, virtual and hybrid instruction. All schools will be closed in a region if its infection rate rises above 9 percent, using a seven-day average, the governor said.

After the state Department of Health reviewed the plans, which also had to be posted online, it left each district to decide how to proceed. Beacon, Haldane and Garrison chose the hybrid route, with a mix of in-person and virtual instruction. They must offer all-virtual plans, as well, because some parents said they did not want to send their children into classrooms.

Private School Plans

Hudson Hills Academy, Beacon
The school is offering in-person, remote or a hybrid plan with in-person learning for half the day. All students and staff will be required to wear masks indoors but may take breathers outside and in designated indoor areas with social distancing.

Manitou School, Philipstown
The school plans to open in-person. It has created outdoor classrooms and will have students spend a significant portion of the day outdoors. Masks and social distancing will be required for students and staff. Families may request all-virtual instruction, which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The Randolph School, Wappingers Falls
The school plans to open in-person. Staff will be required to wear masks. Children will not be required to be masked in the outdoor classroom, with social distancing. Children will be encouraged to wear masks when using a restroom indoors or for temporary periods indoors “with attention to the developmental and emotional needs of children.” There is no virtual-only option.

Each district has sent questionnaires to parents to ask them whether they plan to send their children in person or rely on remote instruction.

School districts must post their remote-learning plans online, as well as plans for testing and tracing students and teachers. In addition, according to the state, they must hold three to five public meetings to discuss their plans.

Haldane held one meeting last week and has others scheduled for Aug. 20 and 26, while Garrison will hold sessions on Aug. 18 and Aug. 20. The schedule for the Beacon district was not immediately available.

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