Space, Staffing Figure Into Plans For Reopening New York Schools


SYRACUSE, NY (WSKG) – School districts across New York State have to submit their plans for reopening to the state Education Department by Friday. Central New York superintendents are explaining to school boards what a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning would look like.

At an online Jamesville-Dewitt Board of Education meeting on Monday, Superintendent Peter Smith said under their hybrid model, all Kindergarten and first grade students would return in person, full time with social distancing. Students in grades 2-12 would attend school in person either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday with Wednesday being a remote day.

Students at Jamesville-Dewitt Middle School in 2015. TOM MAGNARELLI / WRVO PUBLIC MEDIA FILE PHOTO

One school board member said it would be hard on parents of students in grades 2-5 to not have their kids go into school every day. Smith said they made their decision based on space and staff constraints. Classroom capacity ranges from about 19-21 students. But with social distancing, Smith said the capacity drops to around 16 or 17 students.

“If you’re bringing everyone back, you need to have the space or additional space for those kids to be located in,” Smith said. “Even when you look creatively at using gym space or cafeteria space, with our classes and with the way our buildings are configured, our buildings run out of space very quickly.”

Also, if there are more classrooms, there needs to be more teachers.

The Syracuse City School District’s hybrid model has half of students, Pre-K through eighth grade, attending school twice per week. High school would be all virtual, except for science labs and career and technical education labs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce next week, a final decision on schools opening.