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Ulster County to support school districts with Rapid Response plan



Four districts weigh in with varying plans

Ulster County, schools, open, support

Ulster County has developed a countywide Rapid Response plan to support local school districts as they begin reopening this fall. County Executive Pat Ryan spoke with school superintendents from all nine districts within Ulster County to discuss the five-part plan.

Guidelines have been set for screening and testing for COVID-19, investigating positive cases through contact tracing, offering support for school-specific isolation plans, maintaining communication between the County and each school district, and providing PPE for students and faculty.

Ulster County will provide nearly 30,000 masks for students and staff at school districts that plan to open. The County will also provide public health nurses on standby to advise the school districts and to respond to potential clusters and other health-related scenarios. Plans call for testing all school staff prior to schools' reopening for in-person instruction.

“As a parent, I understand the anxiety and concern that so many parents, teachers, and students are feeling right now about reopening schools,” County Executive Ryan said. “My top priority is to ensure the health and safety of our residents and we are 100% committed to working with our school districts to ensure a safe environment. Our team is prepared to provide any and all resources to our schools and we will closely monitor the public health situation in order to proactively respond to any potential public health scenario.”

Four of the county's nine school districts reported to Hudson Valley One with their plans for reopening, or in one case, not reopening.

The Kingston City School District has devised a hybrid plan, with pre-K through sixth grades learning onsite but spread across several school buildings to facilitate social distancing. Grades 7 through 12 will be learning remotely, except for English language learners and students with special needs. About 20 percent of the parents who responded to a survey said they would be having their children learn remotely regardless of the school district's plans.

The Saugerties Central School District recently decided to begin with completely remote learning for the first month, before instituting its hybrid plan, which involves splitting all its students into two cohorts. Each group will learn in person two days a week and remotely three days a week. All students will learn remotely on Wednesdays. Efforts will be made to put siblings into the same cohort, and students with special needs and English language learners will get extra in-person schooling.

At Onteora Central School District, K-6 will attend school in person, while 7-12 will be split into four cohorts getting in-person instruction one day a week and remote instruction the other four, with Wednesdays all-remote. Parents may opt for full-time remote learning for their children, with the eligibility to change on a quarterly basis.

The New Paltz Central School District has been considering a complex hybrid plan, but the school board voted on August 7 to delay the opening of school due to “significant delays in the supply chains preventing our ability to acquire many of the necessary elements needed for a safe reopening.”

Consult school district websites for updates on opening plans.



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