Webster Letter - Well Thought Out Hybrid Option

Webster letter - (I personally enjoy how thorough the hybrid option is — wonder where they’ve spent their time this summer planning?) 😆

Dear Webster CSD Parents/Guardians,

It’s been an important week of information sharing focused on how to safely reopen our schools. Governor Cuomo, along with the New York State Education Department and Department of Health, released guidance to assist districts as we develop reopening plans that must be submitted by July 31.

Webster CSD has been working on reopening plans in advance of this guidance. Surveys were sent to parents, students, and staff to gather input on reopening. If you have been following the daily news cycle, you’re well aware of how much information on reopening schools there is to read and understand. I wanted to share a few of my observations based on the guidance and our survey data:

1. Physical distancing to six feet in all directions will make coming back to school full-time (meaning all students on all five days) a challenge.

2. Face coverings will be needed, but there will be built-in breaks; the science behind the safety that face coverings give our community is undeniable. If we want to come back to school, we need to have our coverings ready and our distances spaced out!

3. The data we collected from parent/guardian, student, and staff surveys (and compiled in the linked Webster CSD Reopening Advisory Report) is a lot to digest, but it is helping us draft our reopening plans. Our district is crafting three different plans at the moment:

a) 100% in-person instruction: This plan would require us to use nearly every available space in our schools (i.e. not only classrooms but also gyms, cafeterias, libraries, music and art rooms, etc…).

b) 100% virtual instruction: This plan will have middle/high school students joining half of their classes live via Google Meet each day and dropping into office hours for their other classes. Attendance would be taken and assignments will be given and graded.

We're still working on the virtual instruction plan for elementary students, but it will look different than the virtual emergency learning of last spring.

c) Hybrid instruction: This plan would have 50% of students on campus at one time. The secondary plan may look like a Monday/Tuesday group and a Thursday/Friday group. Wednesdays would be a virtual day to stop into office hours and a day for teachers to collaboratively work with their teams to plan common activities for the upcoming weeks (those activities may be virtual or face-to-face).

The elementary hybrid instruction plan could look the same (Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday), or it could also follow an AM/PM schedule. The AM/PM schedule would have half of the students coming in the morning for half the day. And then, the other half of the kids come in the afternoon for a half day. With the AM/PM schedule, all elementary students would have school each day and get to see their teacher and classmates Monday through Friday.

There are certainly pros/cons for each schedule, and I know that no matter which one we choose to submit, there will be families upset that we are moving too fast or too slow; we're expecting too much masking or not enough; we're overemphasizing distancing or not taking it seriously. I also know that many of our families will simply be thankful that their children are back in school in some form or fashion, seeing their friends, and engaging with their favorite teachers.

Our #1 priority remains the health and safety of our children AND our faculty and staff. Our students may be asymptomatic, but once the virus is passed to teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, etc... those adults tend to get much more intense symptoms. And when the adults who take care of our students start getting sick, the subsequent staffing shortage will lead us to shut down.

Here's what I know with 100% certainty: We will be guided by science and the expertise of medical professionals. We will move forward in a thoughtful and very measured way that makes whatever plan we adopt one that is sustainable for as long as possible.

There's a lot to digest. Digest away and get ready for an additional short survey early next week. We want to get an idea of how many families will send their kids to school in eight weeks if we return full-time or with a hybrid plan. We also need to know how many families are willing to transport their child(ren) to and/or from school each day as this has major implications for bus routing and our ability to physically distance on the bus.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important information. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. And please continue to work with your children on how to properly wear a face covering (cover the nose and mouth!), wash their hands, and stay six feet apart... #IWantToSeeStudentsInSeptember.


Carmen Gumina Superintendent of Schools