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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo reminded school officials across the state Monday that today is the deadline for submitting a detailed reopening plan if they want their schools to be allowed to open for in-person classroom learning.He added that school districts must post their remote learning plan online as well as their plan for testing and tracing students and teachers. Schools must also have three to five public meetings prior to August 21 with parents - who will be allowed to participate remotely - as well as one meeting with teachers to go through their reopening plan.

Lansing School Superintendent Chris Pettograsso gave a rundown of plans to inform families about school reopening and how it will work at Monday's Board of Education meeting.  That was followed this week by 'community conversations' Tuesday and Thursday that she said would provide more detail for families of Lansing students.

"The major decision on how many students are on our campus at one time really comes down to square footage of our school buildings and how we are able to socially distance for the safety precautions and meeting mandates on social distancing.  At this time we're looking to have class sizes of no more than 12, hopefully 10 in most of our classrooms, K-12," Pettograsso says.

A week ago Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that based on each region's infection rate, schools across the state are permitted to open this fall. Every region's infection rate is below the threshold necessary by the State's standards to open schools. The Department of Health will review submitted reopening plans from school districts and notify districts of their status on Monday. Out of 749 school districts across the state, 127 had not yet submitted plans to the Department of Health, and another 50 are incomplete or deficient. The determination of how individual districts reopen - in-person vs a hybrid model - will be made by local school districts under strict Department of Health guidelines.   All Tompkins County school districts, including Lansing had already submitted their plans.

On Monday Cuomo announced a Friday (today) deadline for school districts that have not submitted plans for in-person learning. By Monday 107 of the state's 749 school districts had not submitted a plan for in-person learning. Districts that fail to meet today's deadline will be unable to provide in-person learning this year.  Cuomo also reminded districts they must complete the three to five public sessions with parents and teachers and post their plans for remote learning, testing and tracing on their website by August 21st to be in compliance with standards established by the State.  Lansing has held at least two of those this week, and Lansing's reopening plan is also posted on the school Web site, including a seven minute video in which Pettograsso summarizes the reopening, plus a link to a recording of a Zoom meeting for those who were not able to attend in real-time.

Lansing students will come to campus two days a week, Monday through Thursday.  When students come on campus will be different in the different grades.  Fridays will be used for faculty and staff professional development, lesson planning, and virtual education.  Families will be able to decide whether their student will participate in hybred (partly online, partly in the physical classroom) learning, or entirely over the Internet.  pettograsso said that decision needs to be made first before the district can determine which students will come to campus on which days.

She also said that child care will be provided for younger students whos need it, but that it may not be ready for the beginning of the school year.  District officials are looking at off-campus sites for child care, and negotiations for locations are ongoing.

Cuomo says the State continues to review plans based on set criteria. Districts that are found to be out of compliance will get a letter from the State Department of Health today and a follow-up call naming the sections of their plans that are deficient, in which case they will have until Friday to amend their plan.  Pettograsso also told the Lansing community that all plans are subject to change because of changes in state mandates and guidance and requirements based on community metrics for COVID-19 infections.

Even though all New York school districts currently meet the metrics that allow reopening, not all will be allowed to reopen.  Cuomo expressed dismay that as of Monday over 100 districts had not yet submitted their required reopening plans.

"There are 107 school districts that have not submitted their plan - for those 107 school districts, how they didn't submit a plan is beyond me. If they don't submit a plan by this Friday, they can't open," Cuomo said Monday. "The main arbiter here of whether a school district has an intelligent plan to reopen and whether people have confidence in that district's plan: It's going to be the parents and it's going to be the teachers, and that requires discussion, and that's going to be a dialogue. Parents don't have to send their child. The parents are responsible for the health and safety of the child, and they're not going to send the child if they don't believe the plan makes sense. A teacher is not going to come back into the classroom if they think the classroom is not safe, and that's right. The school district has to have that dialogue by the 21st to fully comply with our rules."

Although many details were revealed this week, parents had a myriad of questions, some of which couldn't yet be answered.  Pettograsso and School Board President Christine Iacobucci said that the process would remain transparent, and answers to the questions would be provided as soon as school officials have them.

"One of the biggest questions we receive is something that is also based on numbers and it's around what type of virtual learning platform will we be using for virtual instruction for both the hybrid and the students that choose a hundred percent learning," Pettograsso said Monday. "We're definitely using Google classroom. We will definitely be using Google Meet. There is something called Class Link that will put all of our classrooms on our links and our apps on one page for your organization, because we heard that streamlining was very difficult when you were coming and going, we will be doing synchronous and asynchronous learning. We will have established check-ins -- there's daily attendance and there's grading."

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