U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik sat down with North Country superintendents as students, teachers and parents prepared for an unprecedented start to the school year.
Sefanik touted her co-sponsorship the Smart Act to provide $500 billion in federal aid to K-12 districts. “The extra Chromebooks you’re buying, the additional transportation rounds, PPE, it all adds up significantly,” Stefanik said. “And we need to be there to support you.”
Many North Country schools have said elementary students will attend class in person all week, while middle and high school students will adopt more of a hybrid schedule. Andrew Cook, superintendent of Hartford Central School, said no one knows how it will all work out.
“It’s very hard to make generalizations about how school will operate in the fall when you start to drill down the details to the individual the needs of every single student,” he said.
“Not every students educational path is the same.”
Cook says schools are lacking the funds and resources needed to protect the health and safety of students. For instance, he says his district is concerned about transportation to and from school under social distancing guidelines.
“Our 66 passenger buses right now can only fit 22 people on there when we’re used to upward of 50 people on the bus,” he said. “We do not have the financial ability or the staffing or the equipment to increase our bus runs.”
Other educators say focusing on the social and emotional well being of students and specialty classes like band, will be just as important as core academics upon getting back in the classroom.
“To allow them an opportunity not just to learn with their teachers but also spend some time with their classmates,” said James Knight, Superintendent of Schools at Northern Adirondack CSD. “Something they haven’t gotten to do in a really long time.”