Olean school district

Cheerleaders and students from Olean High School are shown during their last gathering for the boys basketball sectional playoffs before schools shut down last March due to the pandemic. Students are expected to return to Olean schools using several options this fall.

OLEAN — When the Olean City School District resumes classes after Labor Day, teachers and administrators expect students will attend either in-person or remotely, depending on the status of the pandemic.

On Friday, administrators provided a newsletter to parents and students outlining tentative plans for the upcoming school year. In the newsletter, Superintendent Rick Moore said the reopening plan will address safety, health and welfare, learning, child care and meals. In addition, the district said families will have the option of total remote learning for their children or a hybrid model which will gradually bring students back full-time.

The newsletter noted the school district does not have the “room nor the adequate number of highly qualified teachers to bring all students back on the same day while providing safe distancing and the other requirements of the New York State Education Department and the New York State Department of Health.

“Therefore, we have developed a hybrid approach which is being used by most schools throughout the state to keep students and employees safe,” the newsletter stated.

Moore said students who choose to attend classes with the combination approach, which is in-person and remote learning, will be in class two days a week to receive instruction from their teachers and three days a week at home for remote learning.

The schedule includes a “Hybrid Approach with Day Care Options.”

This plan is necessary in order to provide appropriate social distance for the more than 2,000 students who attend the district. Therefore, students in this category will be divided into two cohorts: Red and Gold.

It was noted that this will be done alphabetically with the intent to keep families on the same schedule. For example, students in the Red Cohort will be in school on Monday and Tuesday and will learn remotely on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Gold Cohort students will learn remotely on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and will be in school on Thursday and Friday.

Students in self-contained special education classrooms will attend in-person school on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the newsletter stated. Special education children, as with the rest of the student body, will participate in remote learning on Wednesdays to allow for deep cleaning of all campuses.

The buildings will again be deep-cleaned on Saturdays.

Moore said the school district is working with the Olean YMCA, the STAR program and other agencies to explore child care options on remote learning days. The programs will attempt to complement the school day and week.

“What’s going to happen is there definitely will be people who are going to need day care on those (remote learning) days,” Moore explained.

He said breakfast and lunch will be provided by the Olean City School District at these programs. In addition, breakfast and lunch will be provided to all students Monday through Friday when learning in school, as well as remotely.

“When learning at home on remote learning days, meals will be available at designated locations to be announced and will include breakfast and lunch,” he stated.

It was also noted that if a family chooses to have their student attend classes totally remote, they must commit to this for the entire marking period of nine or 10 weeks. If students elect to return to classes in-person, however, they will have to do so at the start of a new grading quarter.

In addition, those enrolled in the hybrid model of learning can move into 100% remote at any time, but similarly, they cannot reenter the hybrid model until the new marking period begins, the newsletter continued.

The newsletter issued the caveat that, as with the school district, “families should be prepared for the evolving conditions associated with the pandemic.

“We all must be prepared to return to 100% remote learning should the virus have an upswing in the community and/or we have confirmed cases in the school,” it stated.

Moore said he admires the teachers and staff for the work they have done to create tentative plans for the return of students to school.

“It’s a start to bring kids back until we can get a vaccine … and what’s nice is that people have choices,” he concluded. “Hopefully people will be understanding.”

For more information, or to provide comments, send emails to HuskyStrong@olean.org.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)