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Schenectady plans to bring many students to school – for half days

Schenectady plans to bring many students to school – for half days

Parents have option for fully virtual programs; others will do both
Schenectady plans to bring many students to school – for half days
Photographer: File photo

SCHENECTADY -- Schenectady City School District leaders plan to focus in-person instruction in core subjects in the morning hours, sending students home with lunch to spend the afternoon learning virtually.

The plan, which interim Superintendent Aaron Bochniak outlined in a Friday interview, also will give all families the option of keeping their students home for an all-virtual academic program.

“We are going to be offering parents a choice to participate either completely virtual or in a hybrid format,” Bochniak said.

Students that choose the hybrid option will be prioritized by grade, with elementary students, eighth- and ninth-graders attending daily, and older students alternating between a week in school and a week virtual. Some high school seniors might come to school daily depending on their specific schedule needs. Students with disabilities and English language learners also will be prioritized for daily in-person instruction and also operate under the shortened in-person school day.

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By truncating the in-person school day, Bochniak said, the district will be better positioned to clean all of the buildings thoroughly each afternoon and eliminate the risks associated with serving lunch in school buildings. Students instead will leave school with a to-go lunch and the next day’s breakfast, Bochniak said.

While at school in the mornings, teachers will focus on core subjects like reading, writing, math and social studies and try to maximize face time with students. Classes, which will range in size from around 10 students in pre-kindergarten to around 15 in middle and high school, will be spread out in classrooms, cafeterias, gyms and other spaces.

In the afternoon, when students return home, they will have assignments, independent work and other activities to complete. The afternoons also will provide teachers a chance to offer particular students extra support, virtually, and open themselves up for virtual office hours.

The all-virtual component, which families will be asked to commit to for a full quarter of the year, will operate separately from the in-person program. Students will be given specific schedules and be expected to log into classes at set times. Teachers will provide live online instruction for students throughout the day.

Bochniak said about 40 percent of families in a recent survey indicated an interest in an all-virtual option. As the district gets a better handle on what students opt for in-person and all-virtual, district officials will iron out schedules, transportation routes and more detailed logistics of where classes will go.

Families will be encouraged to check their children for a raised temperature or other symptoms before sending them to school, but school leaders still plan to check the temperature of all students prior to entering the school building, Bochniak said.

Bochniak said he plans to host a virtual forum sometime in next two weeks to detail the plan and answer questions from the public.

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