Edgemont and Scarsdale Schools Make Changes to Learning Plans for K-2 Students

GreenacresLearningCommons2 copyThe Learning Commons at Greenacres Elementary School has been reconfigured to accommodate kindergarten students attending school full time. Photo Credit: Sharon HillAs the COVID pandemic continues to sweep over our communities, ongoing steps are being taken to adjust to the difficult environment. In recent weeks, both the Edgemont and Scarsdale school districts have come out with slightly different approaches to creating the best learning environments possible for its kindergarten through second grade students.

Edgemont makes changes to provide more support for K-2 students

Based on the results of focus groups with elementary parents and teachers and on surveys from parents about Edgemont’s elementary program, the District has announced a new plan for the Community’s youngest learners starting November 23.

Currently Edgemont teachers teach in-person, hybrid, and fully remote students from their classrooms. Students are split into AM/PM groups that attend school every day for half the day, while spending the rest of the day in a remote learning setup. It’s been determined, however, that Edgemont’s youngest learners need more support with remote learning, and that they would greatly benefit from having a teacher dedicated to them instead of one who is also trying to balance in-person and hybrid students.

Moving forward, the District will reallocate some members of the existing teaching staff so that remote-only students in grades K - 2 will have teachers dedicated solely to them. This will require a transition for remote-only students in particular, but the District believes the benefits of this change will far outweigh the challenges. Starting November 23rd, remote-only students will have a new classroom teacher. Special-area teachers will remain the same. These reallocated teachers are appropriately certified and are currently in other roles in Edgemont.

How does this affect in-person and hybrid students?

Hybrid teacher placements will remain the same, and these teachers will have more time to dedicate solely to the students who attend their physical classrooms in the AM/PM cohorts.
In the event that a “hybrid” student must quarantine, they will continue to receive remote instruction from their assigned homeroom teacher.

Edgemont is not able to offer an opportunity for all K - 2 students to return due to space constraints and health/safety concerns, but they are still working out the details of plans to safely bring additional K - 2 students to a brick-and-mortar setting. According to one Edgemont parent of a second grader, “We are very happy that Edgemont has decided to provide additional support for on-line learning. We realize there will be a transition period, but we’re confident that this change will work out really well for our kids...and for us parents too!”

Scarsdale takes different approach, returning Kindergarten-Second Grade to full time in person learning starting November 30th

Whereas Edgemont has space limitations that keeps it from bringing back all K-2 students, the Scarsdale School District will offer all kindergarten through second grade currently in the hybrid program a return to full days of instruction in school. On Monday November 30, K-2 students at Edgewood, Fox Meadow, Greenacres and Quaker Ridge will begin full time instruction, creating more opportunities for student to teacher connections and student to student connections.

However, the plan has been delayed a week at Heathcote where an exposure to COVID caused 35 staff members to be quarantined. In a November 24 email from Superintendent Thomas Hagerman he explains, “Heathcote was required to quarantine 35 staff members, representing nearly 40% of all faculty and staff. This included the full custodial team, a number of cleaners, some teachers, and many teaching aides. While we have been able to run school this week, it has been extremely challenging, and only possible through the hard work and flexibility of our staff and the fact that K-2 students were remote to allow for the transition to full-day instruction after the Thanksgiving holiday. The majority of the quarantines necessitated by recent cases will end on December 3rd, reducing the staffing challenges (assuming there are no additional quarantines). As such, we will need to delay the start of K-2 full-day school at Heathcote only until Thursday, December 3rd. From November 30th through December 2nd, K-2 at Heathcote will move to remote learning. All other elementary buildings are expected to start K-2 full-day on November 30th as previously planned.”

Despite another exposure at Greenacres that was reported on Wednesday November 25, the district will move ahead with the plan.

To accomplish this while maintaining social distancing, the district has reconfigured large group spaces to create more classroom space. See photos above and below of the Learning Commons at Greenacres reconfigured for kindergartners, courtesy of Greenacres Principal Sharon Hill who said, "The teachers have done an amazing job transforming these large spaces into inviting learning environments for the children."

GreenacresLearningCommons1 copyGreenacres Learning Commons with socially distanced desks