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Community survey shows families lean toward hybrid models if schools cannot fully reopen in September

on July 17, 2020

Warwick Valley Central School District received nearly 2,300 responses to its Reopening Schools Survey, which was delivered to parents via email last week. The survey laid out the basics of five reopening models for consideration. The responses have helped gauge parental preferences regarding their students’ safe return to school in the fall – including busing – and will now inform the Reopening Task Force’s subsequent steps and decisions.  

“The Reopening Task Force and the Warwick Valley Central School District would like to thank the community for its input, and we look forward to using this insight as the task force weighs reopening models and makes its recommendation to the district,” said Superintendent Dr. David Leach.

The majority of respondents indicated that they would prefer to send their students back to school based on one of two models: a hybrid model that includes distance and in-person classroom learning; a traditional full-time in-person learning model.

Here is a breakdown of the survey’s key questions and the responses received to each.

Which statement best describes your feelings about sending your child/children back to school in September?

A follow-up question asked respondents to consider the importance of safety measures that will likely be in place for any school reopening models that involve in-person learning. 

It is essential to maintain social/physical distancing (even if children may have to attend school part-time) and wear masks to keep everyone safe until we have a reliable treatment or vaccine for Covid-19.

With 64.7 percent of respondants in agreement that responsible safety measures are essential for any sound reopening plan, the task force has already ruled out utilizing any reopening models that do not involve effective physical distancing. Respondents were then asked to rank five basic learning models proposed in the survey by their personal preference.

When thinking about the options that we might be able to utilize in our return to school in the Fall, please place these options in rank order of your preferences. (Note: Public health guidance/circumstances may prohibit some options.) Use 1 for your top choice and 5 for your last choice.

The final weighted ranking based on all 2,298 responses is as follows:

  1. Hybrid of in-person and remote instruction with alternating days
  2. All students receiving in-person instruction daily
  3. Hybrid of in-person and remote instruction with alternating weeks
  4. Youngest students in school daily (socially distanced); older students mostly virtual
  5. All students receiving remote instruction daily

A majority of 55.3 percent also said they plan to have their students ride district buses, with another 38 percent saying they will opt for personal transportation.

The Reopening Task Force will now consider the collected input as it selects a base model from which it will develop and recommend a formalized reopening plan for September. Once the task force selects a model, families will have another opportunity to provide their input and concerns through a second survey.

The task force – composed of school staff and community members – will make its recommendation based on community input and guidelines laid out by the state and made available to districts on July 13. Of course, any model may need to change based on circumstances that are evolving day-to-day (i.e., if another regional outbreak occurs).

On Monday, July 13th Governor Cuomo shared that if a region of the state is in Phase IV and the average daily infection rate of Covid-19 is 5 percent or less, schools in that region can reopen. School districts must submit plans to the New York State Education Department by July 31. Regional decisions on school openings will be made during the first week of August.

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