Utica and New Hartford schools planning to reopen with new guidance

Local News

(WUTR) — Schools have two weeks to create a plan that fits the 145 pages of guidelines from New York State. On Thursday, the State Department of Education released guidelines for school districts.
They have until July 31 to submit their plans. 

“We’ll have enough detail, I believe, to submit to the state for approval,” said Utica City School District superintendent Bruce Karam. “But, there’ll still be some things that we will have to hammer out, such as policies, procedure and protocols.”

The guidelines include that schools must buy enough masks so that every student can have one per week and every teacher can have five per week. For Utica, that would mean the purchase of 750,000 masks, which wasn’t in their original budget.

“We’re hoping that there’ll be some type of federal stimulus or maybe the state will find a way to help reimburse the districts for these costs,” said Karam.

Districts must also have a plan that includes the possibility of distance learning. At a public meeting in New Hartford, the district said they’re considering letting any student that doesn’t feel safe learn from home.

“In the survey, we’re going to provide an opportunity for parents to choose remote learning exclusively,” said New Hartford Central School District superintendent Robert J. Nole. “We still will plan, because parents could change their minds. We’ll plan whatever schedules we put together that those students can come back to school.”

Karam said that Utica can’t even hope to put all their students in the classroom this upcoming school year.

“It’s impossible, just by virtue of the guidelines,” said Karam. “You’re looking at six foot spacing in classrooms; you can only put 12 kids in a classroom. No, it’s not possible.”

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