The largest school district in the region has decided to start the new school year fully remote after initially being slated to open in a hybrid model.
Instead of welcoming students in the classrooms in its five elementary schools, two high schools and one middle school on Tuesday, September 8, Lakeland will be relying on a remote learning system until October 13.
“We are keenly aware that this change will result in challenges for some families, and I apologize for this hardship and late notice,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brendan Lyons announced at an August 27 Board of Education meeting. “However, we cannot justify having students arrive at schools each day without assurances of adequate staffing.”
“The district was to open in a hybrid learning model. However, in the last few weeks, we have received numerous requests for leaves of absences for medical and other personal reasons such as childcare from our schools and departments. This, coupled with the expected absences due to sickness as well as required absences due to mandatory, daily employee health screening for COVID-19 symptoms, made for an impossible situation,” Lyons explained.
Lyons noted most of the requests for leave took place during the past three weeks.
“Although the majority of our teachers and support staff were ready to open in the hybrid model, it became apparent that we would not be able to open our schools with the adequate staffing and supervision required to maintain health, safety, and a productive learning environment,” Lyons said.
Lyons said the district will be exploring the possibility of providing some form of in-person instruction for the most severely disabled students.
“Between now and October 13, we will be focusing on delivering high-quality remote learning for students,” Lyons said.
The majority of the other school districts in the area will be kicking off the year with remote learning for the first week or two but then switch to a combination of in-person and at-home instruction.
The Hendrick Hudson School District has developed a unique approach. September 10 through 18 will be fully remote for all students but only for half days. From September 21 to 25, students will remain remote but will be on a full day schedule.
Starting September 29, in-person classes for kindergarten through fifth grade will begin, and the hybrid learning plan for sixth through 12th grade will begin. Those families that have opted for the remote plan through January will continue with remote learning.