School opens on Sept. 8 ‘come hell or high water’

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The Granville Board of Education met on Aug. 29 and were briefed by superintendent Tom McGurl on the pressure the district is faced with completing renovations on time with the first day of school for all grades set for Sept. 8.

Even with the pushback of two days for Granville Junior Senior High School’s first day of school, the countdown to have classrooms ready for Sept. 8 is too close for comfort for superintendent Tom McGurl and the Granville Board of Education.

“The work that’s being done, it’s a noticeable improvement,” McGurl said at the Aug. 29 board meeting.

One of the main concerns as addressed by McGurl was the delivery delay of cabinetry for the building preventing faculty from storing items that were supposed to arrive two weeks ago.

“We’re waiting for the folks from Rochester to come install it,” he said. “But my concern is, that’s great we have all of the stuff in there and that’s great we have two extra days to unpack all of the stuff, but it would be kind of nice if we had places to put it. Worst case scenario? We get the rooms set up with desks, all boxes pushed in where the cabinets are supposed to go and we will have to do it over time.”

McGurl mentioned the “less than ideal” situation being frustrating because of the waiting game in a predicament where time is already a precious quantity.

“It’s not even a construction issue, which I have plenty to share on that.,” McGurl said. “It’s more just of real practicality. Yes, we’ve gotten stuff inside the classrooms that are finished, there’s a giant pile in the middle of the room. Somebody’s got to unpack it all,” he said.

“Realistically, day one of teachers arriving, Thursday (Sept. 1) is pretty much booked with all of the required trainings which leaves them with no time to get into the classroom. Day two, best case scenario unless one of the classrooms is still under construction, maybe four-and-a-half hours.”

McGurl said feedback from faculty and staff at the middle and high school levels has been mostly appreciative with signs of relief to have two extra days to get classrooms ready.

The superintendent said the gymnasium has been completely repainted, trimmed and the floor has been waxed.

“We did not have time to get the new color surface done. They are going to hold the price for us, they have inventoried all materials so we are not going to see an up in price,” McGurl said.

The new color surface is projected to be completed next summer after staffing shortages for the company doing the work would create a tight deadline and could have complicated fall sports this year.

Several rooms throughout the building are awaiting paint jobs, flooring and accessories like whiteboards, according to McGurl, but are all projected to be completed by Sept. 8.

“Hopefully we are still in a good spot by the end of the week (Sept. 2) and the start of classes next week. It is what it is,” McGurl said.

“You could still use emergency days which I really don’t want to do because that’s going to put us in a tough spot. It’s going to snow this winter and we’re probably going to have snow days… my plan is come hell or high water, it may not be an ideal opening but we will be opening on that pushback day of the eighth.”

Additionally, McGurl delivered a report of state guidance on restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic being lifted, providing a somewhat “return to normalcy” to the classroom.

“It is very similar to what most of the schools around our region are doing. Masks are no longer required in schools, students, faculty and staff may elect to wear a mask, but that is entirely their own decision but there is no requirement,” McGurl said.

“Individuals who return to school after completing five days of isolation due to a positive test, in other words you were positive, you had Covid and you’re done with isolation, should wear a mask in school. Notice that it doesn’t say you’re required to, we are seeking guidance on that.”

McGurl said the guidance the district received includes a five-day isolation period after a positive Covid-19 test, with the positive test day counting as day zero.

“Symptomatic students will be sent home,” he said.

Also, there will be no more contact tracing or distance requirement in place for the classroom or cafeteria. The district is bound to receive 1,000 more Covid test kits from WSWHE BOCES and McGurl encourages community members to take some off the district’s hands.

For faculty, each staff member was granted three Covid leaves from March of 2020, with the second and third times requiring a positive test that sent the individual home, not just coming in contact with someone who tested positive.

“The goal is to get back to business as usual as possible,” McGurl said.