OLEAN — Discussions on reopening plans were a focal point of the Olean City School District board of education during Tuesday’s Zoom meeting.
The board heard Superintendent Rick Moore’s comments on the plans after it had gone into executive session to discuss a contractual issue that involved the reopening.
After returning to session, Moore began his report by commending the reopening committee, consisting of administrators, teachers and parents and headed up by Jennifer Kless and Jen Mahar, for their hard work.
“It’s a huge lift and there are huge obstacles, but I think we’re starting to get some pretty good news,” Moore said. “One of the things we have to let everybody know is there is always the possibility that if the Covid situation gets worse … the governor could tell us to go back to 100 percent remote. That could happen, so we need to prepare our parents, our teachers and our students.”
With that said, Moore noted the committee has “worked really hard on a hybrid” model that would allow the district to operate classes in person and remotely, if needed.
“Our goal is to service all of our students and make sure that we serve our community,” he continued. “We understand that there are people going to work and we understand the difficulty that they’re in.”
However, Moore noted that the “number one” issue for the board and himself are to ensure the health and safety of students. This is followed by ensuring the students receive an education, therefore the district wants to “get the kids back (to routines) as soon as possible.”
He further noted the school district has to adhere to more than 100 mandates issued by the New York State Education Department as well as a number of directives from the Department of Health.
He said the district will offer remote options to parents of children who don’t feel comfortable returning to in-person classes.
On a related topic, Moore said the district has been in talks with the Olean YMCA, the city of Olean and a number of agencies in the area to garner their support in moving forward for the next school year.
“One of the things we’re really concerned about is what happens to a kid that can’t come to school or they have a need,” he remarked.
Moore was asked by a board member if the governor would look at closing a school that might have a student or staff member who has tested positive for the virus — or would the entire district have to close under that scenario.
Moore said his understanding is that if a school would have a child or adult who tested positive, that particular school would be closed for a deep clean, not the entire district.
“I think parents should be aware, too, that even if we come back, should there be people identified with COVID, we’re going to have to shut the school down for a period of time to clean,” he said. “I would like to tell you that everything is set in stone and everything is wonderful, but nothing is.”
Board member James Padlo said the school district will be required to send its reopening plan to the state later in August.
In addition, Moore said the district hopes to publish general plans for the reopening by the end of this week.