Superintendent’s Letter: Reopening Update, July 16, 2020

Please see the important message from Superintendent Dr. Marie Wiles:

Dear GCSD Families,

I hope you are continuing to enjoy your summer, even as our thoughts turn to the fall! To keep you informed of developments regarding the opening of the 2020-2021 school year, we will be sending an update to our families each Thursday, beginning today. A great deal of new information that will shape our plans for September was released by the state this week.

On Monday, July 13, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced threshold criteria for reopening schools in New York State. The Governor will use these criteria to make a final decision on the reopening of schools in each region of the state. This decision is expected to be announced between August 1-7.

New York State’s school reopening decisions will be made using these criteria:

  • Open: Schools can open in a region in Phase 4 where there is an infection rate at or below 5 percent (14-day average)
  • Close: Schools will close if the regional infection rate rises above 9 percent (7-day average)

The GCSD Reopening Steering Committee and subcommittees, made up of district administrators, teachers, parents and community partners, have been working since May on our plan to reopen schools. With the release of guidance from the Department of Health and the State Education Department, we are able to move forward with the planning process. The Governor announced that schools are required to submit their plans by July 31, 2020. The top priority for our plan is the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff. If permitted, we are also prioritizing in-person instruction for our youngest learners and those who need additional assistance. We hope to share a framework for that plan with our community soon.

While there are numerous requirements that will define what schools must do to reopen, we continue to be interested in the perspectives of our families. If you haven’t already done so, please consider completing this survey before Friday, July 17 at 5 p.m. We will be sharing the results of this survey next week.

In the meantime, you may be interested in the results of the survey that the district conducted before the end of the 2019-2020 school year. This survey focused on the remote learning experience and was sent to district families, students in grades 6-12 and instructional staff. Over 3,300 responses were recorded. You can view the [remote learning] survey results here. In addition, approximately 50 individuals participated in five focus groups as follow up to the survey. A summary of the insights shared during those sessions will be available next week, but some of the recurring themes that emerged from those discussions included grading, scheduling, consistent expectations for learning, communication strategies, and challenges with technology, to name a few.

Lastly, please visit our webpage that provides reopening updates and resources as our plans develop. I encourage you to check it often. Additionally, the district will use SchoolMessenger to send emails, text messages and phone calls (as needed) to keep families informed.

Thank you for your continued patience and partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marie Wiles
Superintendent of Schools

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