Schools Adopt Similar Health, Safety Plans as Classes Resume

Area school districts are taking similar approaches to try to keep students and staff safe as the new year kicks off this week.

With Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah both occurring the second week of September, school districts are getting an early start by opening on Wednesday, September 1.

“Although we may not be back to the “normal” that we had all hoped for, there is much to be grateful for,” Lakeland Superintendent of Schools Brendan Lyons stated in a message to district families. “As a community, we must continue to support one another and remain positive for our children as we navigate the twists and turns that the pandemic has thrown at us.”

Districts will be requiring at least three feet of social distancing in classrooms and instructional spaces and students will be required to wear masks inside and on the school bus. Staff will also be mandated to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

“We will be monitoring the COVID situation in our district and community daily, and, as always, our plans will continue to evolve.,” said Somers Superintendent of Schools Dr. Raymond Blanch. “We are excited to welcome students back to school and look forward to a safe, healthy, productive year.”

Students will be back to full-day, in-person instruction as remote learning will be limited to students who test positive for COVID-19 and may require quarantine.

“The health and safety of our students and our staff are our top priorities. We are committed to providing a learning environment that is as safe and healthy as possible for everyone while providing meaningful instruction and learning opportunities. There is consensus that students do best academically, socially, and emotionally when physically in school,” Lyons stated.

Back-to-school nights in Somers and Hendrick Hudson will be held virtual this year, while Hendrick Hudson Superintendent of Schools Joseph Hochreiter said Hendrick Hudson will utilize outdoor learning spaces for large gatherings and mask breaks.

After-school usage in school buildings in some districts will be on a limited basis.

During her first address last week, Governor Kathy Hochul said she will be pursuing options to mandate vaccines for school employees or require weekly testing in the absence of vaccines.

New York State Commissioner of Education Dr. Betty A. Rosa expressed her support for the governor’s plans.

“Governor Hochul’s action, taken after consultation with educators, demonstrates her commitment to the health and wellbeing of our students and the importance of keeping our schools open,” she said. “The State Education Department supports a consistent application of masking requirements in schools, easing the return to school with a common line of defense against the spread of the COVID variant.”

At a recent work session of the Peekskill Common Council, Peekskill Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Mauricio expressed optimism for the upcoming school year, noting 2,484 Chromebooks had been distributed to all students in the district and many exciting programs and improvements had been made in the district.

“Our children need to know we will be okay and it’s fun to learn in our schools,” he said.

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