.Most school districts in the Capital Region are eyeing a Sept. 14 start to the school year as they shift schedules to make room for more teacher and staff training prior to welcoming students back to school buildings.
But some districts are still planning to start school, including the various hybrid models of in-person instruction, as early as Sept. 8. Other districts have plans to start students with a couple of days of online orientations during Labor Day week, before sending kids into schools the week of Sept. 14.
Schenectady, Scotia-Glenville, Niskayuna, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Broadalbin-Perth, Schoharie and other districts have all moved the start of school to Sept. 14, frontloading four teacher and staff training days from Sept. 8-11. Those days will cover mandatory training on new health and safety precautions and give educators a chance to prepare for a mix of in-person and virtual instruction.
While many educators have been working over the summer on district reopening plans or preparing on their own, most teachers work under 10-month contracts and technically do not report back for the new school year until next month.
The changes mean that days during the school year districts had originally planned for training – days students would not have gone to school – will now be scheduled as school days. In Schenectady schools, for example, the district’s original calendar scheduled Nov. 3, election day, as a day off for student but it will now be a school day.
Some districts – including Mohonasen, Duanesburg, Corinth, Cobleskill-Richmondville, Gloversville, Johnstown and Sharon Springs – are still planning on starting school in the days after Labor Day.
A smaller subset of districts are planning to start the week of Labor Day remotely, using those early days for online orientations or half-day in-person orientations to give students a chance to settle into what will be unprecedented school routines and expectations. Middleburgh, for example, has plans to start school Sept. 8, giving students a chance to meet teachers and learn about new health protocols; but secondary students will not attend class in person until Sept. 15.
“COVID-19 supply issues are causing many school districts to revise their reopening plans and unfortunately Middleburgh is not exempt from these matters,” Superintendent Brian Dunn said in a message this week, citing delays in upgrading the heating and cooling system at the Jr./Sr. High School building.
The Greater Amsterdam School District also has plans to start the school year will all students working remotely at first. District officials are planning to start the year Sept. 10, utilizing the first days as a chance for students to meet teachers and get familiar with new school procedures, delaying the state of in-person instruction until the week of Sept. 21.
Ballston Spa, which is planning to commence the school year Sept. 14, has pushed its start to in-person instruction until Oct. 5, the latest of any district in the region so far. Educators in other districts have called for delays to in-person instruction as well, seeking greater assurances that new safety procedures will be effective.
Like other elements of district reopening plans, start-of-the-year schedules are still open to change, but district officials are working to give families much-desired clarity about the school calendar as they set out to make plans for the new school year.