District staff approved to work from home when students are virtual; elementary parents want full-day Wednesday

District staff approved to work from home when students are virtual; elementary parents want full-day Wednesday

Pelham Superintendent Cheryl Champ discussed the results of surveys of district staff and elementary parents on hybrid learning Wednesday at the board of education’s first meeting of the new year.

The number one request from district staff was the option to work from home when students are fully remote. The majority of staff asked for the change for the protection of themselves and their families.

This would be the “appropriate time to give teachers that flexibility, and we will be allowing that decision going forward,” Champ said.

Staff also recommended fully remote learning for the week after the holiday break, which was put into effect by the district. This allows “for the incubation period necessary for symptoms and cases to show,” said Champ. “We strongly need parents to communicate with us over any positive cases.”

Faculty expressed positive reports of the half-day Wednesdays and said they are vital for planning time.

“Teachers continue to do a tremendous job, and find the half days critical,” said Champ.

On the other hand, elementary parents surveyed said Wednesdays should be a full day since elementary students “aren’t learning as much.”

“Many of these parents believe these Wednesdays should be full days, but without that time, teachers would not be able to educate correctly and effectively,” the superintendent said.

Parents also expressed concern over the lack of social studies and science and with childcare issues.

“The district has an effort to continue progress with literacy, reading and mathematics, while implementing science and social studies lessons for at least 60 minutes each week, maintaining at least three units for each grade level with key concepts,” said Dr. Steven Garcia, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and personnel.

Parents who highlighted troubles supporting children with scheduling shifts were also mentioned by Champ: “Another area we are exploring with the principals is to see how we can support these families. Bringing more and more students back would be idealistic by the end of the school year when it is safe… We know the vaccines are beginning to roll out, and our school nurses, speech pathologist and others are getting their vaccinations this week.”

Julia Chung, assistant superintendent for pupil personnel services, said, “New York State adopted the ten-day quarantine in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) period, but did not adopt the seven-day quarantine with option to test method.”

Chung said the schools are supplying “support for bridge students, high school launched academy-plus program for students academically qualified, support groups for students by social workers Kristin Quintano and Kelley-Anne Lonergan and individual counseling for students by the counselling department.” Chung also outlined assistance for members of the senior class, with efforts to “support them to get them where they need to be” by tracking student attendance and grades, which is overseen by Pelham Memorial High School Assistant Principal Bethany Antonelli. For students who require, Chung also mentioned the process of “connecting counselors with parents and students” to help throughout the school year.

A bid was awarded for the Glover Field culvert replacement. The district is preparing to begin work at Prospect Hill. The board also approved new tuition rates and budget submissions.

Champ congratulated PMHS senior Aidan Levy, who is nominated as a Presidential Scholar, one of 20 students from New York State chosen by the education department. Champ commended the work of Colonial School secretary Virginia Manganiello, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed on YouTube.