The Extended School Year program for students with disabilities has been a collaborative effort between facilities, nursing, technology, transportation, BOCES health and safety, and administrators and staff. The program implemented an in-person program in less than four weeks.
On June 5th, 2020, the Governor indicated that summer programming for students with disabilities might be implemented in person. The district immediately changed focus from all remote to creating a rewarding and enriching summer experience.
“We have been working diligently with medical experts, our health and safety experts, as well as BOCES to create a safe and unique learning environment for students,” said Steve Wolf, Extended School Year principal.
“Half of our students utilize a giant tent for classroom spaces that provides for an interesting way to learn outdoors.”
Students are engaged in many different learning types while they are in this classroom space and are equipped with fans for cooling, lights, and Wi-Fi. Students can maintain appropriate physical distancing while they are outside at Guilderland Elementary School.
The other half of the students are in alternating classrooms within the building and are also served by staff wearing appropriate PPE and maintaining the proper physical distancing required. In both learning spaces, class sizes are small, with less than ten students in each classroom.
The program is also serving 15 students through remote instruction.
To accommodate transportation needs, large, full-size busses are used to transport students to and from school – this allows for students to be sufficiently spread apart. Students are loaded on busses so that the earliest pickups are at the back of the bus and the latest are at the front of the bus – this allows students to not have to pass each other when loading the busses.
The district is providing a safe and engaging learning environment for all of its students. “All learning activities and related services are being provided for students in the ways that best meet their individual needs. Our staff is experts at programming for students that have a diverse set of needs. The support from all staff has been tremendous,” Steve Wolf said.
“The outpouring of care and compassion has been incredible as the staff has given it their all to make school as safe and engaging as humanly possible. It hasn’t just been the staff that provides direct learning support for students, either. It has been a monumental team effort with bus drivers, computer technicians, custodians, food service staff, clerical, teaching assistants, nurses, and teachers all going out of their way to make sure students’ needs are being met. No one could ask for anything more and we are eternally grateful for how each of these individuals has been there to take care of our students,” said Wolf.
“Mr. Wolf’s compassionate leadership and steady guidance are greatly appreciated. He and all our staff worked tirelessly to pull this together,” said Lisa Knowles, Director for Pupil Personnel Services.
The students have transitioned well back to the classroom environment. “There are smiles on their faces, and they are excited to attend summer programming each day. The world may be a new complicated place at the moment, but for a brief period each day, we are truly able to provide students with an opportunity to continue working on their skills while they find new ways to have fun and enjoy learning,” said Wolf.
Thank you to our families for their unwavering trust and dedication to ensuring their children can access our programming.