MCGRAW, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The hybrid learning model seems to be the most popular among school districts in Central New York. However, the McGraw Central School District is taking advantage of their small class sizes and students are learning in the classroom five days per week.
“The smiles on teachers’ faces when students walked in the door was contagious,” Melinda McCool, McGraw Central School District’s superintendent, said.
It was a long summer with many questions about school going unanswered, but even with 90% of families opting for an in-person learning model, the McGraw School District was able to accommodate everyone five days a week.
“We are very fortunate as a district that we have the space,” McCool said. “My principals were out there with tape measures, measuring things out, getting the limit that is on each of the classrooms to ensure that we were following the standards set forth in the regulations.”
With only about 550 students in the McGraw District, they were able to keep class sizes small and utilize some extra space to keep everyone separated. Many parents now have one less thing to worry about with their children attending school Monday through Friday.
McCool said, “So, we really wanted to help our working families in the community to make sure that their children were taken care of five days a week if at all possible.”
McGraw follows the same guidelines as most schools in the State. Masks must be worn, temperature checks at the door before the school day starts, and now parents play an important role in keeping everyone safe as well.
“We’re doing the temp checks as students come in the doors. We really want parents to take that on and have that responsibility at home, so we don’t have to turn anyone away at the door,” McCool said. “We want that to happen before they get here, but parents have been wonderful.”
Many school districts struggle with lunchtime and gym class, but McGraw has turned lunch into a full dining experience.
“Lunchtime has never been nicer. It’s almost like a dining experience. We’ve spread them out, it’s not just the cafeteria anymore in our high school, but it’s also half of our gym and into our foyer outside of our auditorium, and it really looks like a restaurant,” McCool said.
However, McCool is a little more nervous about physical education classes.
“Right now, it’s easy because we have outdoors. So, they’re doing a lot of lessons outdoors they are spreading kids out,” McCool said. “We have some questions about winter, and inclement weather, and how that will happen inside. I know right now the P.E. teachers have talked about some team building events, health-related lessons with activities that could be done after school.”
Every day presents a new challenge, but McCool believes students will continue to follow the guidelines in place, and they hopefully can move forward with the reopening process.
“People want us to stay open, they want their kids in school, they want them to start experiencing some of the extracurriculars we are able to offer when the time comes,” McCool said. “So, I really have faith in that.”
So far, so good at McGraw, as they continue to be one of the few districts in Central New York to offer in-person learning five days a week.
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