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A lesson plan like no other: Preparing schools during a pandemic

Social distancing, face coverings, and new transportation procedures—opening school during COVID requires careful planning

As a father of three children, at about this time of year, there was always excitement surrounding the anticipation of who may be in our kids’ classes next year and who would be their teachers. Summer reading lists were checked off and the annual ritual of shopping for notebooks, pens, and backpacks would soon commence.

Instead, this year, as the Superintendent of Chautauqua Lake Central School District in the southwestern corner of New York State, I have been spending my summer meeting frequently with a reopening committee of about 40 people. This group, consisting of teachers, parents, students, administrators, community leaders, coaches, medical officials, and staff are helping us plan how to provide the best education for our students in the middle of a pandemic.

Related content: Are principals ready to reopen schools?

We have been planning for three different scenarios: in-person 100 percent, remote 100 percent, or a hybrid of both, with subcommittees handling operations, teaching and learning, student support, and wellness.

Below are just a few of the challenges that COVID-19 presents and some of the solutions that our school district has considered as we follow NYSED, NYS Department of Health, and federal CDC guidelines and await the governor’s office final decision on reopening schools.

Communication and learning systems

Communication to staff, parents, and community are essential in a normal school year and are even more so as we enter the year with adjusting for COVID-19.

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