Even as commencement approaches, Cobleskill-Richmondville has been thinking about September and a new school year.
And the thought now is that school will return to pre-COVID status––that’s the hope, at least.
C-R’s reopening task force of administrators, teachers, staff, parents, community members and students met monthly since last summer to draw and revise guidelines as the pandemic morphs.
“Nothing is certain, but we have to plan for something,” Superintendent Carl Mummenthey said.
That something is that school will “largely be normal,” with 90 to 95 percent of students on campuses, and sports, music and clubs in place, he added.
“Most definitely we’ll have setbacks, but I’m very optimistic,” Mr. Mummenthey said.
COVID safety is still a high priority, however, and the plan is to have masks mandated until at least December. C-R will promote hand-washing and hand sanitizers as well.
A few issues will remain, such as social distancing on buses and having students six feet apart while eating.
“You can eat closer in restaurants, so hopefully those same rules will apply,” said Mr. Mummenthey, adding that such orders come from the state.
Eighty-five percent of faculty and staff have been or will be fully vaccinated by September, and a sizable number of students will be too, according to the task force’s expectations.
C-R won’t separate vaccinated and non-vaccinated students; they’ll be co-mingled, Mr. Mummenthey said.
As difficult as school-in-a-pandemic has been, a few positives emerged.
“We learned to be more nimble, adaptive and creative,” Mr. Mummenthey said. “We learned to think differently.”
Also, as classes sometimes went remote, there was a greater dependency on technology. All students in grades two through 12 now have chromebooks or laptops.
“That was not in our plans,” Mr. Mummenthey said. “Now, how can we leverage this?”
An even greater takeaway than technology and creativity might be that school districts––and Schoharie County––developed confidence.
“Resiliency is a life skill,” Mr. Mummenthey said. “We’ve been through floods and fires and economic downturns. . .whatever was thrown at people here. We proved we could do it.
“This pandemic won’t break us. We’re proud of that.”