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Parents react to schools reopening

Isabel Braverman - Staff Writer
Posted 8/6/20

REGION — Schools in New York State had to turn in their reopening plans to the governor's office on Friday of last week.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, schools across the country are grappling …

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Parents react to schools reopening


REGION — Schools in New York State had to turn in their reopening plans to the governor's office on Friday of last week.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, schools across the country are grappling with the decision to open in-school instruction.

While each plan is different, many schools are following a 50/50 model, where students are at the physical building half of the time, and using online remote learning the other half.

Schools are also giving parents the alternative to do a fully at-home learning model, an option some parents are taking.

Cassandra Egan, who has two girls ages eight and nine at Sullivan West Central School District, says she's lucky she is able to work from home, and is opting to keep her kids home.

“Despite being best for our kids, we also felt that it would ease some of the burden on the school,” Egan said. “I'm not sure what the remote plan is yet, but I'd like to think that keeping our kids home, which we have the luxury of doing, will be one less drain on the school's resources.”

Sullivan West Superintendent Stephen Walker said any hybrid plan involves potential childcare issues for parents, and they are trying to reduce those challenges as much as possible.

“We know that many of our students struggled with last Spring's remote learning, and we have spent extensive time developing a more rigorous and more supportive plan for our students to engage in during their at-home learning days this Fall,” he said.

Some parents, such as those who are essential workers, have to go to work during the day, and need to find solutions for the days their children are at home.

“My immediate concern is for their health and safety,” said Beth Deyermond, whose children are entering grades seven and nine in the Eldred Central School District.

Deyermond and her husband both work in the healthcare field with individuals who are significantly compromised and at the highest levels for complications.

“We are lucky in that our kids are older, but what are families with younger kids supposed to do? Not everyone has family nearby who are available, and there aren't enough daycare providers throughout the county, especially in the Eldred area,” remarked Deyermond.

Egan says it's vital to look for creative solutions for childcare during this difficult time, such as care sharing or creating a forum for parents.

“No one should have to choose between safety and survival, and for single and essential parents that is the very real issue here,” she said. “So the question is, how do we support those families as a community?”

Liberty Central School District, which is the second largest district in the county with just under 1,800 students, is presenting three options (remote learning, in-school, or a hybrid model) before choosing one.

Liberty Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said they've had community forums with parents and staff and sent out surveys to assess their opinions. While the majority of parents said they would prefer complete virtual learning, “our responses have been, quite frankly, all over the place,” Tornatore said.

Many parents are concerned for the health and safety of their children, but they also know the risks that their kids' teachers and school staff are taking to provide in-school instruction.

Matthew Solomon of Lake Huntington has a daughter entering the 11th grade at Sullivan West High School. He and his wife can work from home and are able to drive their daughter to school.

“Our household is thankfully healthy with no comorbidities, but I'm concerned about the teachers,” Solomon said. “I really feel for the teachers, they have a hard enough job without having to risk their lives.”

School administration and parents can potentially all agree on one thing: there is no “right” answer. These unprecedented times present new challenges that people are dealing with for the very first time.

“This remains an incredibly challenging time for all students, families and staff members, all over our state,” Superintendent Walker said. “Sullivan West is a wonderful school district with devoted teachers and staff, talented students and involved parents, and we will remain that way through this difficult period.”


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