School districts prepare for the state’s guidance on reopening

Local News

EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Students at schools in Central New York have been learning remotely since about mid-March, and now the question becomes, when will school districts get guidance on reopening?

Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to release state recommendations on Monday, July 13, but the East Syracuse Minoa Central School District has already been adapting to the constant changes.

“We’re mindful of the fact that we’re faced with something that is really one of the greatest challenges we’ve certainly seen in our lifetime,” said Donna DeSiato, Superintendent of the East Syracuse Minoa Central School District.

Since being closed, many school districts across the state are asking, “What’s next?”

“Where I think we are ahead of the curve in that sense is we have the framework and the structure ready for when the guidance does come,” DeSiato explained.

As ESM began to close out this school year, surveys were conducted on distance learning and a district advisory committee was created, specifically designed to tackle any reopening plans.

We need to be prepared for hybrid models of in-person and distance learning, and looking at the models that are going to best meet the needs of our population.

Donna DeSiato, Superintendent, East Syracuse Minoa Central School District

The overarching committee is designed for teaching and learning, within it, there are subcommittees at the Pre-K, elementary, middle and high school levels.

The areas covered include:

  • Special education
  • Health and safety
  • Transportation 
  • Nutrition
  • Facilities

The school district’s population consists of one early childhood center, four elementary schools, one middle school and a high school.

Their most recent effort to stay ahead of the curve and potentially prepare for reopening come fall, was an extensive survey that was sent to all parents and staff.

“There’s a lot of details of information that are going to be helpful to us, as parents tell us what they feel most comfortable with, and what they see is most likely for their family situation. Same for staff. Staff will also need to help us understand how they’re perceiving the reopening of school,” said DeSiato.

As schools wait for the guidance, DeSiato stressed that health and safety will always be the highest priority.

I think we’re going to have to be prepared, and really being supportive, listening, being patient, using our empathy and our understanding of what’s best needed to accomplish this. This is a very very complex matter, and we’re taking it very, very seriously.

Donna DeSiato, Superintendent, East Syracuse Minoa Central School District

DeSiato said that committees will look at the guidance from the state come Monday, as well as the most recent survey data received from parents and staff.

The plan is for the school district to meet Wednesday, July 15, to tweak and change the plans they have in place as needed.

All school districts will have until July 31 to submit their final reopening plans to the New York State Health Department. The state is expected to give an answer to schools by August 7 on whether or not schooling can resume in person.

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