KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane Board of Education heard an update on the district’s reopening plan at their meeting Tuesday, August 18 via Zoom. Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow said that parents who choose all remote learning for their students in kindergarten through 8th grade will be taught by Ichabod Crane teachers. She said that for high school students the scheduling is a little more complicated.
The current plan for September is that all students in kindergarten through 5th grade will attend school full time with masks and social distancing, and students in grades 6 through 12 will be back in the school buildings two days a week with remote learning three days. The students in the upper grades will be split into two groups, with half the students at district buildings on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other group coming Thursdays and Fridays. Classes will start September 9, and since that is a Wednesday, there will be no students at the high school and 6th through 8th graders will not be at the middle school building.
Parents were also given the choice to keep their students home for fully remote learning. Ms. Guntlow did not say how many families had taken that option, but stressed that the cutoff date was August 19 to let school principals know if the parents wanted to keep their students home so the district can start planning. Parents who choose fully remote learning can change to having their students attend school after the first trimester in the primary school and after the first quarter in the middle school and high school.
She told the board that the district was able to host in-house online classes with certified, district teachers for primary school and middle school students whose parents want them to have all-remote learning. Depending on demand, she said, some classes might be combined so, for example, a kindergarten and first grade class might meet online together with the same teacher. She did say right now the district is looking at one teacher for each grade.
As for the high school students who choose fully remote learning, she said, “It’s a scheduling challenge.” She said at this point they are not sure if remote high school classes will be taught by Ichabod teachers or a teacher from another district. According to the district website, “For 9-12 full remote learning, we are working with Questar III BOCES to determine the best option for teachers. More information will be forthcoming.”
The district held online meetings with parents and building principals last week. Ms. Guntlow said the sessions were well attended. Administrators answered parents questions at those meetings and Ms. Guntlow said the district has put together a FAQ sheet on their website. She also said that though all students 4th grade and up would receive a Chromebook laptop from the district, families of younger students were asked to take a technology survey about need. She said any student who needs a laptop computer would have one.
She also said the district received and is installing temperature check devices on buses. She said families are being asked to drive students to school if possible but that buses will be available. And students in kindergarten to 5th grade must have a parent with them at the bus stop in case they are not allowed on the bus because of a high temperature.
‘It’s a scheduling challenge.’
Supt. Suzanne Guntlow
Ichabod Crane School District
During the meeting, Ms. Guntlow stressed that the district understands the need to be flexible and that the staff has become good at pivoting when plans have to change. The district does have a remote learning plan for all students in case the school needs to close again due to the pandemic.
Also at the meeting:
• The board appointed Lucas Christensen the new assistant superintendent. Mr. Christensen is currently the administrator of educational services at the Chatham Central School District. He will start at Ichabod in September. Mr. Christensen, who was at the meeting, said he was “honored to be the newest Rider”
• The board reviewed last year’s graduation rate of 97% and grades from the last school year in the different school buildings; also board members looked at participation rates for the online learning throughout the grades once the school closed and all students went online in March
• District Business Manager Michael Brennan said that tax bills will be coming out soon. According to the motion approved by the board, delinquent tax penalties shall be fixed as follows: first 30 days (September 1-30) no penalty; second 30 days (October 1-30) 2% penalty
• The board appointed several special education teachers as classroom teachers for September to help with social distancing and keeping class sizes small. Ms. Guntlow thanked those teachers for taking on the new challenge
• The board discussed forming a new Racial Justice in Education committee.
The next board meeting will be September 1. Board President Matthew Nelson said there would be more information about whether that meeting will be in person or online as they get closer to the date. Board meeting information and reopening information is at www.ichabodcrane.org .