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I hope you have all had a restful summer after what can perhaps best be described as an unusual spring. I know that the end of last school year was a challenging time and I hope you had the opportunity to learn and grow while spending time with your families.
I am sure that you have been waiting to see our specific plans to begin the 2020-21 school year. If you don’t know already, a committee of over 50 people representing all areas of JPS, came together over the summer and accomplished a huge lift in a very short period of time. They were charged with devising a plan that would place priority on the health and safety of our staff and students, that met all of the voluminous (and sometimes contradictory) guidance from the state Department of Health and the NYS Education Department while still providing as much of the instruction and as many of the school routines that we know our kids need the most.
We have released, based on New York State and Governor Cuomo’s most recent guidelines, more specific details about the learning models that we will use to start the school year, along with modifications to our reopening plan. These modifications are taken directly from input gleaned through the participation of over 2,500 parents, students, and staff in our community stakeholder survey.
Additionally, we have posted information on the hybrid learning model for students in grades PK- 9, remote learning expectations, and fact sheets with information on the following topics we know to be important to our school community:
Additionally, we have posted fact sheets specific to each school that address FAQs about our new school routines.
So, now to the details. The district will open the 2020-21 school year in a hybrid learning model for grades PK-9 and a remote learning model for grades 10-12. Based on our community feedback, parents may also request a full-time distance learning option as an alternative to the hybrid learning model for grades K-9. Families must commit to this distance learning through February 1, 2020. All students will begin attendance, whether in person or remotely, on September 8, 2020. Childcare options will be available for working parents of students in grades PK-6 who attend school half days and full remote days. We will be sending out a childcare survey to parents.
The reopening of school plans will be reviewed on a 10-week rotating basis for PK-8, while the high school plan will have a review every 5 weeks. These reviews are designed to determine if we can continue to progress on reopening, adding additional students, or if we need to make other modifications based on circumstances at the time.
I am sure that you have questions. I wanted to be sure that you had the opportunity to get answers. To that end, I will be holding Facebook Live & Zoom Q & A sessions on Tuesday, August 18 from noon to 1 p.m.; Thursday, August 20 from 6 to 7 p.m. and Friday, August 21 from 10 to 11 a.m. We will post more information on how to access the sessions through Zoom on our website.
I know that this is a difficult and anxious time for many. Please know that my number one concern is the safety and health of JPS employees and students. I am certain that we will work together to ensure that we reopen schools in the safest way for all members of our school community.
Kevin Whitaker, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools