As the cases rise in Erie County, many are left wondering if staying in school is safe for our community. Most families are really concerned about how districts can move forward safely while still meeting the proper educational needs of students.
At the moment, New York State has been using a microcluster initiative to lower case numbers. The microclusters are classified into three categories; yellow, orange and red zones.
Yellow zones are a “precautionary zone” and are designated to show areas with a low but still concerning amount of COVID-19 cases in the area. Orange zones are “warning zones” and are designated to show areas with a moderate level of COVID-19 cases in the area and red zones are the most extreme of the zones and are designated to show areas with an alarming level of COVID-19 cases.
Up to this point, it has been communicated by Governor Cuomo and the state that if a certain area has an increasing number of cases that causes them to be designated as an orange or red zone, they cannot stay in school until they test out. The school must go remote until they can test 100% of students to return to in-person learning. Once the district tests students, or the area is downgraded to a yellow zone, schools are allowed to reopen. Until that time comes, Sweet Home will be switching to remote learning.
Due to the increasing numbers of cases in the area, the students utilizing the hybrid option this year will have to switch to an all-remote option until the positivity rate goes down. This sudden switch has raised a lot of concern amongst students and parents. Last March when Sweet Home had to go all remote, students expressed how hard it was for them. It was stressful and a lot of students were in a rut. Some students experienced anxiety, depression, and felt very anti-social. All of these are understandable and to repeat that again now is troublesome to many.
Starting today, students will have to follow a schedule similar to the hybrid model while participating in remote learning. Zoom calls will occur during the day at normal class times on Monday & Tuesday for Blue Group and Thursday & Friday for Gold Group. Some teachers may do things differently, but the general schedule includes asynchronous learning 3 days a week. Same as the hybrid schedule, teachers will be available Wednesdays for office hours to help students. Events and assignments within your classes might change daily, so checking Schoology and Gmail daily or updates is recommended.
For all students it will be a huge adjustment mentally. For many parents that are concerned, know that Sweet Home is doing everything possible to ensure our safety and get students back into school as soon as possible and they are providing updates and information on the district website. Remember during this time in isolation, it is important that the Sweet Home community sticks together patiently as a new plan as to how to move forward is developed!