Superintendent shows socially-distanced classroom at Allen Road Elementary in North Syracuse

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NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — With a tape measure in hand, North Syracuse Superintendent Dan Bowles measures the distance between desks inside his sample classroom at Allen Road Elementary School.

Exactly six feet, measuring center to center.

The six feet of distancing isn’t only what most of society has gotten used to during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s also now required by the State Education Department and New York State Department of Health for school buildings to reopen to students this fall.

The classroom’s carpet for group seating, a cluster of desks and overflowing bookshelves have been removed and replaced with 12 desks placed six feet apart in all directions.

Physically moving the classrooms might be the easiest part of the task school administrators have in front of them. By July 31, each superintendent needs to submit written plans to the State Education Department that outlines each district’s reopening.

Central Square is the first district to release its plan.

Elementary class lists will be divided into two groups: one group goes to the classroom on Monday and Tuesday, the other on Thursday and Friday, leaving Wednesday for cleaning.

When students aren’t in the classroom, they’re learning remotely from home. Middle and high schoolers in Central Square will be exclusively working from home.

North Syracuse’s plan is still in the early development stages and will likely offer every student the chance to return to the classroom for some time.

Superintendent Dan Bowles says, “It’s important to have face-to-face contact where possible. That’s what we’re recognizing. To the extent possible, we want kids in our schools.”

He’s not ready to guess what his team will decide when it comes to often groups of students swap in-classroom with remote learning at home.

Elementary is only part of the problem.

Dan Bowles oversees the largest school building in the entire region: Cicero-North Syracuse High School. He says half-capacity might not even reduced enough.

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