School during COVID

The Ithaca City School District's Board of Education will vote at a special meeting Tuesday night on how to start the academic school year of its 5,000 plus students as the coronavirus pandemic continues nationwide. 

The current proposal will be for school to start five days later than scheduled, on Sept. 14, and begin as online-only classes. In-person classes would then start on Oct. 5, with staff members coming in the week before for professional development time. 

The voting meeting will take place at 6:15 p.m. via joinable Zoom call. The meeting was announced on Monday evening via the district's Facebook page. 

According to a source, the reason given for the delay is to monitor what happens with Cornell University's plan to bring students back to campus for in-person classes to see if some tweaking could help ICSD's plans, plus to provide staff training and enhance HVAC systems in school buildings, which would theoretically help air-flow and lower the risk of infection. 

ICSD's plan, initially, was to allow parents to choose one of two learning options for their child: all virtual learning or all in-person classes, with a myriad of coronavirus-related safety precautions put into place. (For a full analysis of the plan to Reopen ICSD that was submitted to the state at the end of July, check here) ICSD Superintendent Luvelle Brown has said before that he doesn't believe a hybrid format, such as bringing some students into classrooms on some days while others would attend on other days and the two groups would rotate while also learning virtually, would fit into the type of learning environment and regimen ICSD wants to provide.

Teacher and parental enthusiasm about being back in the classroom has been murky. The Ithaca Teachers Association, the main teachers union, conducted an internal survey that came back with far more teachers choosing to teach virtually as opposed to in-person. The results of the parents' questionnaire has not been released, but was due the week of Aug. 5. Brown had previously said he did not believe the final decision numbers would cause the district's plans to change, but that appears to have changed at least to a certain extent. 

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