Prior to the winter break we surveyed our Springville Elementary families as we were working to answer the question, “how do we increase quality instructional time for every SGI student?” When working through the opportunities to increase learning and still meeting the required safety measures, our SES team identified the idea of five in-person half days as the safest model that gains in-person daily contact for our students. Principal Chris Scarpine surveyed our families and with 257 families taking part, we were delighted at the participation rate.
Mr. Scarpine has shared the results of the survey in a letter to families that’s likely arriving home today, January 25, 2021. Of the 257 responses, 87.3% are in support of their children attending SES five half days per week, with 80.6% able to manage the childcare challenges and 82.9% excited about the change.
I want to speak to some of the main issues raised in the 188 responses to “What do you want us to think about as we consider this possibility?”
Parent preference for which half of the day was mentioned eight times. We will accommodate this request to the extent possible. For example, if your child is in a class that meets in the afternoons and you need a morning schedule, the move depends on the number of students in that teacher’s morning class. If adding your child to the morning class means that we cannot meet the 6 feet of social distancing requirement, then we won’t be able to make that happen. If we can, then we’ll do everything we can to manage requests.
Concerns about childcare costs and availability were mentioned eighteen times in the comments. This has been our biggest worry and is one of the reasons Principal Scarpine and SES teachers advocated to give plenty of time between the announcement of the change and the start date of 2.22.2021. We will do whatever we can to help you and your family with this challenge. If this means additional bus drop offs for your child at the mid-day, please let our transportation department know what those changes are as soon as possible so that they can help with your request. Our SMS/SHS students are still attending in-person instruction either Purple cohort on Mondays/Thursdays or Gold cohort on Tuesdays/Fridays, so older siblings remain available to help–but on different days.
This was an excruciating concern–knowing that almost 20% of our SES families will struggle to change childcare. We are hopeful that the daily contact with our students–many who aren’t participating on remote days or are in desperate need of the love and attention of their teachers on a daily basis–will make the challenge of childcare worth the benefit of more quality core instructional time with teachers, a reduced burden on families for remote learning, and attention to the social and emotional needs of our youngest children.
In a variety of ways, fourteen participants worried about safety. Would we be keeping the cohorts to a safe number? Yes. Will we be cleaning between bus runs? Yes. Will we maintain all of the safety protocols? Yes.
Eleven participants expressed frustration at yet another change. I hear you. The only additional change you should hear from us this year is a return to full, in-person instruction.
The frustration that we’re not fully in-person, five days per week was expressed by thirty-four participants. This was the most repeated idea that you want us to think about moving forward. Many said, “how can kids be in childcare but not in school?” We have different requirements that we must follow than day care providers. The minute that the governor, CDC and NYSDOH, or NYSED change the guidance on maintaining 6 feet of distance–even requiring 3 feet of distance with masks–we can return to full in-person learning. As we look to the experts on the virus and keeping everyone safe, we will continue to follow the mandatory safety protocols that include 6 feet of distance. Returning all SGI students to full in-person learning will be a dream come true for our entire BOE, administrative team and faculty. I promise we will pivot quickly when this is allowed.
Thank you to everyone for your participation in the survey. Please continue to contact us so that we can work to help problem solve challenges with you and your family.