Starting on April 12, Syracuse City School district will expand the time students will be allowed to be in-person for instruction. This decision comes after the Center for Disease Control and Onondaga County updated their guidelines for school, decreasing the distance students should be apart from six feet to three feet.
“We conducted a surveyto get input from families”, said Jaime Alicea, the Superintendent of Syracuse City School District, “We’re working with the guidance we’re getting from the county, the guidance we’re getting from the CDC and we are waiting for guidance from the New York State health department.”
The school district has set different expectations for elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, with the younger age groups having much more time in-person.
Elementary school students can be in-person five days a week for the entirety of the day. They will be in class from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Teachers’ time in-person will be from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Visual arts classes will follow the new three-foot guideline along with lunch time, while physical education will still have to maintain six feet. Instrumental classes will have special instructions. Parents are still allowed to keep their children remote and Syracuse city schools will still be supporting remote learners.
Middle schools will be in-person Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:45 A.M. to 12:45 PM. Remote hours will be held from 1:50 to 3:40, with all day Wednesday being remote as well. Guidelines for special classes are similar to elementary school students. Full time remote students will continue to be supported and meal kits will be made available.
High school students will be able to come in person two days a week (either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Friday). Students will be in person from 8:45 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. on those days and remote during the afternoon.
The April 12 date was chosen for a specific reason, according to Superintendent Alicea.
“We went with the 12th because it is the beginning of the new marking period,” Alicea said. “We want to give the opportunity to the staff and the kids to get back after the April break.”
To communicate the new information, Alicea sent out an email to families that has also been posted online. video messaging chats will also be held with parents and principals will also make robo calls.
The district has prepared by putting air purifiers in each class room, increasing the amount of desk partitions, face shields, masks and thermometers. The district also plans on providing emotional support resources for students.
For the rest of the school year, the district hopes that more vaccinations and fewer COVID-19 cases could make next year even more open.
“If infection rate in Onondaga county continues to be that way, my hope is we will continue to do everything that we’re doing and we’re going to be able to have other celebrations… that the seniors are waiting for,” Alicea said.