Months of preparation and precaution paid off: school, in its various forms, is back in session for area students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hyde Park Central School District and Red Hook Central School District opened on a remote-only learning plan for the month of September, and they are set to begin implementation of hybrid models soon. Rhinebeck Central School District opened its school year with a hybrid model.
Hyde Park students are still expected to begin a mix of in-person and remote learning later this week, on Oct. 1; Red Hook students follow suit on Oct. 13. Some Red Hook students, including preschoolers and students with special needs, have already returned to the classroom.
The remote openings were successful but came with their own challenges.
“Our challenge [is] to ensure equity with technology, making sure that all our students have access to our remote learning program,” said Janet Warden, RHCSD Superintendent.
The Rhinebeck district jumped right into its hybrid learning model for its return to school Sept. 10.
“It’s met our expectations of how we thought it would go,” said Rhinebeck Superintendent Albert Cousins. “We’ve been slow in phasing in different grade levels.”
All elementary school students were phased in two weeks ago, with middle school and high school students completely phased in last week, he said.
“We’re very proud of our plan and proud to be one of the districts in the immediate area that’s been able to bring students back [into the buildings],” Cousins said.
The district has been methodical in its efforts to bring in as many students as possible while adhering to strict procedures to maximize safety, he said.
“We do a daily health screening that all families are expected to do,” he added. “We have nursing staff outside the buildings every morning for additional assessment.”
No positive cases have been reported within the Rhinebeck district and students with symptoms are not allowed into the school buildings.
“It’s been going really well in the community, and by proxy, in the school as well,” Cousins said.
One positive student case was reported last week in Hyde Park, where students have not yet begun attending in person.
“Our thoughts go out to this student and family,” said Deputy Superintendent Aviva Kafka.
Hyde Park parents were also notified on Monday that one staff member has tested positive.
No cases had been reported in Red Hook schools.
All COVID-19 infections and testing operations are tracked through an online COVID-19 Report Card, implemented by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in early September. The Report Card is live at schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov.