Liverpool Central School District was among the districts that resumed in-person learning for their students five days a week starting Monday for the first time since the pandemic began. Superintendent Mark Potter says prior to this week, the district was operating on a hybrid basis, having different groups of students come in for two days a week while others joined classes virtually.
He says the recent CDC and county change in guidelines of social distancing from six feet to three feet encouraged the district to make the shift.
“We thought that it felt like right time because of the change with both CDC and the County. So, you talk about excitement, I think it’s starting to feel a little bit more like a normal school setting with a classroom full of kids and not having our teachers playing a kind-of tug of war.”
He says for many kids, in-person learning only two days a week was insufficient. Only about 1000 of the district’s 7000 students were still learning remotely Monday.
“The overwhelming majority of our kids really need face-to-face interaction, not only with their classmates but also with their teachers because the successful student rally has to be the engaged student.”
Liverpool is also taking other precautions, such as continuing mask wearing, installing barriers in the cafeteria, and using high-grade air filters. The schools also check students’ temperatures when they arrive. Potter acknowledged some teachers and staff were reluctant, but says the precautions made most staff comfortable with having kids return to school buildings.
“The overwhelming majority of teachers really want the kids back in school. And there are some reservations from some of our staff members that this is going to cause a rise in transmission because just having that many kids in a classroom that close together.”
Potter says the return to in-person learning has been especially important for parents who are struggling as they return back to work or try to balance working from home. Parents have had the added responsibility of making sure their kids are working independently or with their class virtually, while caring for them. Potter says as a benefit to the community, the district has pushed for kids to be back in school five days a week.
As vaccine eligibility also opens up Tuesday for those 16 and above, he says the district will assist students and families with appointments if needed.