TONTOGANY — Once guidance is released from the state, Otsego Local Schools administrators will have a better idea of what fall classes will look like.
The plan now is to be back in school five days a week.
Superintendent Adam Koch updated the school board at its meeting Thursday of what is planned for this fall.
Koch said he is hearing guidelines will be released Tuesday.
“Day to day, we have the responsibility to create a safe environment for our students and staff,” he said. “That’s going to be first and foremost.”
Koch said he realized that, whatever decision is made, not everyone will be happy.
“There’s going to be various different viewpoints on this virus but at the end of the day it’s still there and we owe it to our staff and students to create the safest environment possible,” he said.
Koch added he wished he had more answers, but until guidance is received, it’s going to be a wait-and-see game.
“Whether that’s masks or no masks, all-day instruction – which I think we’ll have in the beginning. But I think it could change depending on different outbreaks,” he said.
The district has to be prepared for all different scenarios.
Koch said once guidance is received, they will map out every part of the day in all buildings: in hallways, bathrooms, lunchrooms and buses.
“I think if they limit transportation, we’re going to have to develop a plan to possibly get our students here on a half-time basis. A plan is in the works to cut each school population in half if the district is restricted on the number of kids in a classroom,” Koch said.
Teachers also are preparing for online studies.
“If the outbreak gets bad and the state tells us to close again, our teachers will be ready to do online instruction and deliver new content with online videos or live video feeds.
“It will be different that this past spring and better,” he said.
Based on a recent survey, there remains parents who are not comfortable sending their child back to school. In those cases, the district will offer an online option not taught by Otsego teachers. There is a preK-12 option that can be purchased.
“The biggest disagreement is masks,” Koch said.
If and where they are required will be a future discussion with the board once guidance is received
If wearing masks helps create a safe environment, that will be a decision of staff and the board.
The lunchroom also may be problematic, due to the prohibition of large gatherings.
Cleaning will continue and hand-help misters have been purchased that can be used to clean classrooms quickly, similar to an electrostatic sprayer.
“We’ll be ready for what we’ll need to do to clean every single day” Koch said.
Board member Jessica Mehl asked about how much compliance will cost. Treasurer Steve Carroll said he needs more time to see what supplies will look like.
Mehl also wanted to know if there was a plan in place if teachers decided they didn’t want to teach from the classroom.
“We do not have that as of right now. No one has indicated they are not willing to come back yet,” Koch said.
Board President Brad Anderson suggested that administrators develop tiers for spending reductions if an additional cut is made to state funding and if buildings don’t open in the fall.
Once guidance from the state is received, Koch said he will meet with the health department and union leadership to start putting plans together.
A special meeting is planned for July 15 at 6 p.m. in the high school gym to continue discussions. The meeting will be live streamed.
The board also hired Emily Bires as a part-time food service director.
When Jeanne Jeffers resigned in May, Koch, Carroll and Eva Vasher, director of transportation, were going to fill her role for an undetermined amount of time.
Food service needs more attention than the three administrators could give it, Koch said Thursday.
Bires will do compliance, menus and ordering while Vasher will continue to help with day-to-day activities.
This is still a cost-saving measure, Koch said.
Bires is currently employed at Northwood Schools and will continue there while working at Otsego part time.