Months into the Glen Cove City School District school year, students and teachers, who have been on a hybrid-learning plan that infuses both in-person and remote instruction, will now spend more time inside the classroom [see box].
The ultimate goal is a safe return to what once was — learning and teaching from the classroom five days a week. But for now, the district must transition students back to the desks in phases.
“All plans are contingent upon the premise that the numbers [of Covid-19 cases] stay the same, that it stays reasonable, that the percentage of students on remote only stays at the approximate number it is now and that the number of students on a hybrid number stays at that level,” said Glen Cove City School District Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna.
Not everyone is in favor of the new plan, however. Glen Cove High School teacher Victoria Graziosi issued a statement in opposition to the plan at the Board of Education meeting on Oct. 7.
“The majority of high school teachers believe it is not advisable to implement a two-cohort model,” Graziosi said. “We believe that the combination of increased student density, closed windows due to decreasing temperatures and flu season would increase risk of infection.”
Rianna responded by saying that school officials are looking closely at the data surrounding Covid-19 infection rates, along with the amount of students enrolled in in-person and hybrid models, and that increasing in-person class time would depend on those numbers.
Students who are on a remote only instruction plan or who have an all in-person instruction plan because of an independent education program will not be effected, Rianna said.
Among the considerations when drafting this plan, the Board of Education looked at the ability to practice six feet of social distancing within the facilities. Also, the availability of personal protective equipment and barriers on desks. The current data surrounding students enrolled in the hybrid model, remote instruction only and in-person instruction only was also considered along with the data surrounding Covid-19 cases and infection rates. With all of these factors considered, Rianna stated, students and staff can safely increase the amount of time they spend in the classrooms.
Glen Cove Councilwoman Danielle Fugazy Scagliola, who is a parent, said she wanted to see students return to the classroom at a faster rate. “We’ve been one of the few that do not have the option of having our kids in school full time,” she said. “As a mother of kids in four different schools, I can tell you that kids of all ages need to be back in school for a variety of reasons. That said, the elementary school students need to get back as soon as possible.”
However, Glen Cove resident Anne Markoulis asked the Board of Education why in-person instruction time would be increased before winter break, as many are satisfied with the current schedule and as flu season is approaching. “We are at a great place,” Markoulis said. “We should not try to fix something that’s not broken.”
If there is a spike in the infection rate, Rianna ensured parents that the district is ready for a smooth transition into an all-remote instruction plan.