As district leaders continue to review options for reopening schools in the fall, about 40 Cohoes students recently returned to the classroom for in-person learning.
The district’s six-week Extended School Year (ESY) program is a blended model. Tuesday through Thursday, for about three hours each day, students are in a classroom at either Van Schaick Grade School or Cohoes High School. On Mondays and Fridays, lessons are held virtually.
ESY is designed to support students who are especially at risk for regression in their skills during an extended break from school. Governor Cuomo on June 5 signed an executive order allowing in-person instruction for these types of summer programs.
Prior to launching the program on July 6, district leaders had to work out a number of logistical issues to provide in-person instruction that aligns with guidance from state and local health departments and the Center for Disease Control in regard to COVID-19.
“We need to be creative in how we engage with them while social distancing,” Van Schaick teacher Jacqueline Curtis said. “It’s especially different because we’re very hands-on with our kids and there’s a lot of physical redirection. They do well with structure and routine and this is all new.”
As part of the safety protocols, students have their temperatures taken each morning and desks are spaced at least six feet apart. Staff are required to wear masks while students are encouraged to wear masks most of the day. Safety protocols are also woven into instruction.
“Wash, wave, wear your mask is part of the curriculum,” said Erin Hill, Director of Special Programs.
The ESY program includes four classrooms at Van Schaick and two at the high school. The safety measures used this summer will help to inform decision making for reopening in September.
“We can assess how student groupings, or ‘pods,’ work on a smaller scale,” Hill said. “This also allows us to examine our practices for cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces.”
For parents who are uncomfortable sending their children to school, or whose children are immunocompromised, a virtual-only ESY experience is available. According to Hill, seven students are participating in that format. Those students are given the opportunity to engage virtually with their teachers and classmates as they do in-person activities.
The ESY program runs through August 14.
More photos from the program can be viewed on our public Facebook album.