JOHNSTOWN — The Greater Johnstown School District on Thursday announced that grades 3-6 will return to in-person learning four days per week starting Tuesday.
Most of the district’s 3rd- through 6th-grade students are expected to gain 20 additional days of in-person learning before the end of the school year because of the change. Students and families who’ve chosen to remain remote-learning only to avoid the possibility of spreading COVID-19 will not be affected.
In order to facilitate six-foot social distancing requirements for all of the returning students, Johnstown is also relocating grades 5 and 6 from Warren Street Elementary School to the former Knox Junior High School, which currently houses district administrators, pre-K and several BOCES special education classrooms.
District Superintendent William Crankshaw said Johnstown started in-person learning four days per week for grades K-2 on March 15, and this shift will effectively double the number of students at the district getting four days per week of in-person instruction.
Crankshaw said in the first part of the school year Johnstown had divided its 1,639 students into two cohorts, with half of the students identified as “purple” and the other half “gold,” Johnstown’s school colors. The purple and gold students all received two days per week of in-person learning: Monday and Thursday for purple and Tuesday and Friday for gold. The other three days per week were covered by remote learning via the internet.
“We’ve been using Wednesdays for a lot of the important work of getting to families of remote learners and also lots of meetings about the curriculum also cleaning and disinfecting,” he said. “so Wednesday has been our buffer, and it remains that way.”
Crankshaw said relocating the 5th- and 6th-graders to Knox was necessary for adequate social distancing. Crankshaw said he is uncertain if the shift of those students to Knox will continue for the 2021-22 school year. That likely will depend on coronavirus pandemic safety guidelines.
“It’s not a long-term plan, at this point,” Crankshaw said. “Right now, it’s not a permanent move idea at all, it’s just to get grades 3-6 back to school four days per week.”
Johnstown will continue the purple and gold two days of in-person instruction per week system for grades 7-12.
Traffic patterns will be affected by the return of students to Knox: 8-9:30 a.m. for drop-offs and 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for pickups.
“There will be an increased police presence by the Johnstown Police Department during those times to assist with traffic flow,” reads the district’s Thursday news release. “Students being transported by bus will be dropped off and picked up on the East First Avenue side of the Knox Building. Students who walk or are dropped off by car will use the main entrance on South Perry Street.”
District officials advise that student drop-off vehicles should travel north on South Perry toward Main Street and students should exit vehicles on the east side of the street, same side as the Knox Building. Students should not cross South Perry Street.
Also, starting April 13 the Johnstown Police Department will enforce a no-parking zone on both sides of East 1st Avenue between Glebe and South Perry streets during arrival and dismissal, except for residents of that street. There will be no parking allowed at any time on the east side of South Perry Street from East 4th Avenue to East 1st Avenue, according to the news release.