CANASTOTA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — While so many schools are having to switch to online learning because of COVID-19, the Canastota Central School District is bringing more kids to the classroom on Monday, Oct. 26th.
NewsChannel 9’s Julia LeBlanc paid a visit to Peterboro Street Elementary School to see why the district is making this decision, after operating on a hybrid model for just over a month now.
Right now, most students come to school in “blocks,” only sitting in a classroom two days a week. On Monday, the district will start phasing in its elementary students. It’s a change Superintendent Shawn Bissetta says they always planned to make.
“We feel like we can do that safely and we feel like we really have an obligation if we can do that safely, to have our students back with us,” Bissetta said.
The phased in approach will start with students at Peterboro Street Elementary School and South Side Elementary School, who will be learning in person five days a week. On November 16th, those at Roberts Street Elementary School will follow. Eventually, the district does plan to bring all Junior-Senior High School students, too.
“At this point, we’re just not there yet because of our capacity, as far as our space and our staffing capacity for that,” Bissetta said.
At Peterboro, the district has managed to maneuver the classrooms to be able to fit anywhere from 14-20 students at one time.
“We’ve removed a lot of furniture in our classrooms and done a lot of re-arranging to be able to fit the desks in here safely,” said Jennie Carnahan, the Principal at Peterboro Street Elementary School.
Each classroom is set up just a little bit differently. In one kindergarten classroom, there are bins next to the desk where students can put their personal items. Plus, each student has their own lanyard to attach their mask to one they get to the classroom.
“It is necessary to bring them back in, this is the best place for them to be. Learning is social and it’s absolutely not ideal for them to be sitting in front of a chrome book at home for any length of time,” Carnahan said.
Carnahan said the elementary students are having difficulties learning from home, which is why the push back to the classroom is so important to district leaders.
“Even though it’s a difficult and challenging year, we still think we can get good things done and do it in a safe way,” Bissetta said.
Though there’s always a chance covid could change their plans, they feel it’s a risk they have to take.
“We’re aware of what’s going on, we follow the situation closely. We’re in regular communication with the health department, with our neighboring school districts, and we realize that it’s going to be a challenge that’s not going away any time soon. We know it’s going to be quite some time unfortunately before we can return to a “normal” education setting,” Bissetta said.
The Canastota Central School District has had one high school student test positive for COVID-19 so far. Bissetta said he hopes to offer more testing options for students and staff in the future.