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Sixth grade language and literature teacher Claudia Ducic leads a class at Dobbs Ferry Middle School on March 8.

The Ardsley and Dobbs Ferry school districts have announced their proposed plans for reopening with full-time in-person instruction for the final 10 weeks of the 2020-2021 school year.

Dobbs Ferry’s reopening date is Monday, April 12. Schools Superintendent Lisa Brady held a virtual parent meeting on Monday, March 8, to review the plan and explain the district’s next steps for communicating with parents. 

The district sent out a post-meeting survey, and school principals will also communicate their specific plans to parents.

Unless revisions are made as a result of survey feedback, the detailed plan will be posted on the district website. 

The current proposed schedule, for five days a week, is that Springhurst Elementary’s K-2 classes will run 8 a.m.-3 p.m., and grades 3-5 classes will run 8:35 a.m.- 3:25 p.m. Middle and high school classes will begin at 8:12 a.m. and end at 2:20 p.m.

Brady noted that the fully remote learning option will be offered for the remainder of the school year. She also assured parents that the Chromebooks given out will remain with students for as long as needed.

Ardsley’s six-phase approach that was introduced in September has established Monday, April 19, as the opening date for full-time, in-person instruction.

On Tuesday, March 2, at a virtual school board meeting, Schools Superintendent Ryan Schoenfeld presented an overview of the district’s “Road to Opening Five Days Safely.” 

Students will have a choice of either attending five days a week on campus or five days a week as fully remote learners, but not a combination. However, Schoenfeld said, “I’m also very optimistic about coming back five days a week very safely.” 

At Concord Road Elementary School, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, school will start at 8:52 a.m. and end at 2:50 p.m. On Wednesdays, instructional time will run 9:15 a.m.-1 p.m. From 1-3 p.m., time will be flexible to accommodate asynchronous learning, community time, or professional development for staff; some activities may not take place in the classroom. Lunchtime varies according to each class. 

Ardsley Middle School hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday will be 7:50 a.m.-2:40 p.m. Wednesday is a flexible day: 7:50 a.m.-12:10 p.m. instructional time; 1-3 p.m. asynchronous learning, community time, or professional development for staff. 

Ardsley High School classes will run 7:55 a.m.-2:12 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Remote learning students will also have a ninth period from 2:15-2:52 p.m. Wednesday hours will be 7:55-12:15 p.m. for instructional time and 1-3 p.m. for asynchronous learning, community time, or professional development.

The Ardsley School District is in ongoing discussions with parents, and on March 11 held a webinar to provide specifics of its plans regarding school transportation, meals, and classroom schedules.  

The school board will hold a public forum on Tuesday, March 16, livestreamed on the district website, regarding proposed revisions to the districtwide safety plan for the 2020-2021 school year. The plan under discussion is available at bit.ly/3rDKuf2.  

Both school districts will continue to observe social distancing, require mask-wearing except during mask breaks, provide barriers, and use outdoor space more often, not just for sports or recess but also as classrooms where appropriate.

Brady assured parents that all her teachers were willing to be vaccinated. She also noted that air purifiers are being added to every classroom, though this precaution isn’t a federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or state requirement. Schoenfeld is having Ardsley’s instructional spaces re-audited to ensure optimum ventilation.

Both superintendents touched on the effect that the disruption of student life has had on SEL (social and emotional learning), and wanted parents to know that these aspects of their children’s well-being will be addressed. “It’s a big shift for the kids, going back with all their classmates, community-building,” Brady stated.

“SEL has been woven throughout all of this,” Schoenfeld affirmed. “Students support one another. Coming back together five days a week will enable us to expand on the SEL supports we have in place.”

Some parents were unhappy with spring break rules regarding Covid tests and quarantines, and quarreled with district personnel, Brady acknowledged. “This is where there were some not-so-pleasant exchanges with our nurses. It’s not their fault or Andrew Klaich’s fault,” she explained, referring to the athletic director. “This is where things got a little heated.” 

“Through the transition, we must respect one another though we have different opinions, to support one another… people are in different places, and you have to recognize that,” Schoenfeld emphasized. 

Within the parameters of the guidance issued by the CDC and State, each school district is developing different approaches to transportation, athletics, after-school clubs, and other activities. 

“At the middle school, we’re not planning to do modified sports this part of year,” Brady said, “and we’re not definite about co-curriculars.” 

At the March 2 meeting, Ardsley’s board passed a resolution (subject to health and safety guidelines and protocols) allowing student participation in “higher-risk” winter sports: junior varsity and varsity football and volleyball.

Schoenfeld also mentioned that his district would be thinking about how it can ensure that this year’s graduating class would enjoy the traditional activities last year’s seniors missed. 

“I know there’s a lot of anxiety, and I know parents have a lot of questions, but we will be answering them sooner rather than later,” Brady assured her audience. “I can’t tell you how excited we are about being in a place where six short months ago we thought we’d never be.”

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