On March 14th, 2021 Jamesville-DeWitt Superintendent Peter Smith emailed J-D families a plan for the reinstatement of district-wide all in-person learning instruction set for April 12th, 2021, along with further amendments for students of elementary level and special education. With this return, many concerns have been raised about what actions will be taken to ensure that safety remains a priority within the classroom.
Although previous discussion of requiring some kind of partition between students when decreasing the social distancing guidelines to 3 feet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a statement saying that schools will be able to allow this decrease in distancing with the use of no barriers so long as all students wear masks. States already practicing these new guidelines include Illinois and Massachusetts.
The CDC has also established that this new guidance is only available to communities that are not at a high risk for COVID-19. In excluded regions, students will still be required to maintain a 6 feet distance between each other. Whether Onondaga County will make this distancing change is unknown, considering the New York Times has the area labelled as very high risk.
There is also the discussion of availability of desks for students in both classrooms and cafeterias. There is a need for more desks with reduced social distance guidelines, because most if not all of the current desks will be distributed through classrooms to allow the return of all students. Nothing is crossed off of the list of possibilities, including reclaiming tables in the cafeteria in order to relocate desks to classrooms and even overflowing eating areas such as the auditorium foyer.
By essentially doubling the current student population that is in school at a single time, there has been the concern of proper ventilation. However, there doesn’t seem to be any changes in place in regards to this matter.
“Our ventilation system is excellent,” said J-DHS Principal Paul Gasparini.
Over the course of the next few weeks, administration will be faced with many difficult decisions, all of which have their own individual benefits and downfalls. As in any school district in this time of uncertainty, the decision will ultimately be made by the Department of Health guidelines.
Principal Gaspirini is optimistic about this step towards a sense of normalcy. “I believe that our students and faculty have been very diligent and have done an excellent job. I am confident that we’ll continue to do so.”