Scarsdale Middle School Principal Announces Plans for a Careful Re-Entry to School

meghantroyScarsdale Middle School Principal Meghan Troy is considering safety first.Assuring parents that “We always keep the students at the center of our work,” Scarsdale Middle School Principal Meghan Troy, flanked by Assistant Principals Rochelle Hauge and Chris Coughlin, explained plans for a “careful entry” to the school year. She said, “This year we will hit the ground walking, not running.” Interest was keen as 1,700 people signed onto the Zoom call on August 18, which was hosted by the district’s Technology Director Jerry Crisci.

Troy said that every decision “starts with health and safety,” and said that she considers every decision “as a parent of my own children,” and has reviewed her thinking with a Scarsdale doctor who specializes in infectious disease.

In order to explain the new safety protocols, the school will share a video with the students and hold a Q and A on September 1 at 6:30 pm. Sixth graders, who will be entering the school for the first time, will attend orientation sessions on September 9 and 10. Families will be required to complete a health screening before students enter the building each day.

Students will attend a full day of school on a hybrid schedule, which calls for cohorts to attend school on either Mondays and Thursdays or Tuesdays and Fridays. Here are some of the new safety measures that will be implemented:

Students will no longer use lockers, and will leave their backpacks in their homerooms. Teachers will try to keep required materials to a minimum to avoid heavy backpacks.

Students will be required to wear masks and classes will be limited to 12-14 students, with desks six feet apart. All desks will face front, rather than be positioned in a circle. During the course of the day, students will remain in their classroom and teachers will rotate rooms. However, seventh and eighth graders who are in leveled language or math classes will switch classrooms during the course of the day. Students will stretch and refocus between classes.

Traffic in hallways will be one way only to minimize face to face contact.

Lunch will be held outside when possible in a garden, courtyard or one of many of the school’s designated outdoor spaces. During lunch, students will be supervised by a teacher and two lunch aides. When the weather is not conducive, lunch will be eaten in the school’s gyms which have been divided into four sections with desks set six feet apart. At recess, kids will stretch and get fresh air. No games will be played.

On Wednesdays, groups of 12-14 students will be assigned to an advisory class with a faculty member. These groups will meet virtually with the goal of building relationships and community, and making connections in small groups. These advisory groups will mix cohorts so students will have the chance to get to know students outside their assigned class.

According to Troy, webcams will be installed in the classrooms. For students who choose to attend school all virtually, there will be a live feed into the classroom on the days their cohort attends school.

Troy outlined next steps for the weeks before begins as follows:

-Determine student cohorts and include siblings

-Make bus and transportation assignments

-Hold orientations for students and faculty and training for staff.

-Provide parents training on technology platforms.

-Continue to respond to parents, continue to prepare students to walk our halls and be with us in September.

Using the online chat system, parents were able to ask questions to the middle school administration and they had many. They wondered how many teachers had agreed to return to school, how students in the virtual program could participate in the class and interact with their teachers, what metrics might allow students to return to school full time, and how the school would handle the transition if they were forced to move to an all virtual model. How would cohorts be assigned and when will students be advised of their assignment?

Would Scarsdale families need to report any travel outside the area? How will teachers and administrators handle non-compliance with mask wearing and social distancing? Will there be warnings/consequences for recurring non-compliance?

There were questions about the CHOICE program, the Learning Resource Center, technology and more.

Troy said a Q and A with responses to parent questions would be forthcoming.

Watch the presentation online here