Schools to remain closed for the rest of the year, at-home learning to continue

School closures across New York state will remain in effect for the remainder of the academic school year, and distance learning for students will continue for the rest of the year as well, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday, May 1.

In addition to distance learning, districts will continue to provide distribution and availability of meals, and child care for essential workers, Cuomo said.

HFM BOCES and its component school districts, including Broadalbin-Perth, are waiting for the governor to issue a formal executive order regarding the extended closure and will announce details once they become available.

At a press conference Friday, the governor asked districts to make plans for the start of classes for the 2020-21 school year. Cuomo said schools will have to reimagine themselves to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and ensure everyone’s safety when classes do resume.

Earlier this week, the New York State Education Department announced it would form a statewide task force made up of educational leaders, including superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, school board members and other stakeholders, to guide the reopening of schools and ensure that children’s educational, developmental and overall wellbeing is considered during this important discussion.

HFM BOCES District Superintendent David Ziskin said school districts in the HFM region will work together to make plans to safely reopen schools.

“HFM BOCES will work with our school partners to formulate a regional approach to keep our students, teachers, staff and family members safe,” Ziskin said. “Class procedures, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, transportation, arrival and dismissal procedures, personal protective equipment, communications with our families and personnel, and more will all have to be considered before schools return to session. We will continue to monitor the situation and review guidance from public health officials, the state Education Department and others and take all necessary precautions before classes resume next year.”

The governor said a decision whether summer school programs will be allowed to conduct in-person classes has not been made yet but will be announced by the end of May.

If traditional summer school does not open, Ziskin said, HFM BOCES is investigating offering online opportunities for high school students across the region who require summer classes. In the past, HFM area schools have worked together to offer a regional summer school program at a central location for students.

The New York State Board of Regents has previously announced that the June and August Regents exams are canceled for this year.

Cuomo Friday also acknowledged that the COVID-19 crisis also presents a mental health and domestic violence crisis. HFM BOCES has created a directory of local and statewide mental health, domestic violence and other resources for people in need of assistance.