Granville unveils school reopening plans

Granville unveils school reopening plans

By Matthew Saari

“We’re really reinventing education…it is going to be a very different school day.”

That was how Granville schools superintendent Tom McGurl summarized his district’s – and every school district dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic – plans for reopening for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Granville released its plans, entitled “Golden Opportunities Return; A Reopening Pathway” Tuesday afternoon. The plans are outlined in a hefty 35-page Google document, which can be found on the district’s website.

“That’s the base plan submitted to the state,” McGurl said, noting there are several facets which still need to be worked on, pointing to the documents appendices, bus schedule, bell schedule and district calendar.

Granville superintendent Tom McGurl

“To say there is a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks would be a massive understatement,” said McGurl.

The 35-page document, contains 25 separate sections addressing a variety of topics from grades and attendance and what each grade’s instruction will look like to transportation, hygiene and food service among several others.

Under the tentative plan the upcoming school year is slated to begin Wednesday, Sept. 9 which is a week later than prior years. McGurl said this is because all of the district staff development days will be held at the beginning of the year, prior to school’s start, so that faculty are trained up on the slew of new procedures and processes coming down the proverbial pipe.

“That’s assuming the board agrees and is willing to amend the district calendar,” he said.

The plan, which McGurl said is very similar to districts throughout the Capital Region, includes a bevy of new precautions to ensure COVID-19 doesn’t realize a resurgence amidst the student population.

Health screenings will become the norm with district staff being screened daily while parents will be expected to record the temperature of their children and complete an affirmation it is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The younger students, ranging from pre-K through grade 7, will have daily, in-person instruction at their respective school, however due to social distancing guidelines in place, each class size has been drastically reduced. For example, McGurl said, the district’s grade 4 typically is four sections in size; under the new guidelines, that grade level has expanded to eight sections.

Teachers and meals will be brought to the students, to minimize traffic throughout the building.

“We just can’t socially distance the lunchrooms,” McGurl said.

The older students however, will be practicing a split schedule. For the first five weeks of the school year, grades 9-10 will be on an A/B split with A-group being in the classroom on Mondays and Tuesdays while B-group will be in-person Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesday will be a designated sanitation day.

During that same timeframe, grades 11-12 will be “full remote.” For the second five weeks of the school year, grades 11-12 will be on the same split, with grades 8-10 moving to “full remote” status.

“Everyone will be full remote except for our cleaners and administrators,” McGurl said.

Grade 8 will practice the A/B split throughout the entirety of the school year.

Attendance, McGurl said, will be very strict whether the student is in-person or learning remotely. If a student has a remote history class scheduled for 8:30 a.m., that student is expected to be logged in at that time or be deemed absent.

“In the spring, we kind of waved the magic wand on attendance and grading,” McGurl said. “There is none of that anymore – attendance is kept, grading is kept.”

Under state regulations, McGurl said, parents do have the option of keeping their children at remote status throughout the entirety of the school year. However, to do so, the parent must complete a form, found of the district website.

“We just can’t have kids jumping in and out,” he said.

Because of social distancing guidelines, district transportation is being stretched, McGurl said, and parents are being encouraged to transport their children to school. To better help the district plan for its transportation needs, there is a form on the district website for parents to fill out should they choose to transport their children.

Mask usage will be required, McGurl said, but will not be necessary through the entirety of the day, only when social distancing cannot be practiced. For example, due to the close confines of a school bus, students will be required to wear masks. However, in the classroom, with students and teacher appropriately spaced, a mask would not be required.

Wearing a mask is not an option.

“You have to wear a mask when you can’t socially distance,” McGurl said. “If kids refuse to do that, they will not be in school.”

The road to this document began months ago, well into the pandemic. However, McGurl noted, “without guidance from the state that’s all guessing.” On July 17, the district received guidance from the state Education Department, Department of Health and federal Centers for Disease Control, at which time proper planning could take place.

The following Monday, McGurl said, the district administration met with stakeholders including parents, faculty, support staff and Board of Education members to devise “the most equitable plan” possible. This plan was forwarded to the state Monday.

For the complete Granville Central School reopening plan, go to the district website, and click the “Golden Opportunities Return” graphic.