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Survey gauges thoughts on in-person school

Most Lake Placid parents say they will send kids to school this fall

Two banners hang in front of the Lake Placid Middle/High School on June 1. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — A survey of local parents conducted by the Lake Placid Central School District shows that a majority plan to send their children back to school in person this fall, provided the school is open.

The Lake Placid Central School District is planning to welcome back its students in person this fall. That in-person return is pending state authorization, which had not yet come as of Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 5.

The survey, conducted as part of the school’s planning for its reopening, gives some insight into how confident parents are in the school’s ability to keep their children safe from exposure to the coronavirus.

The survey results were included in the school’s reopening plan documents. Those documents are available for download at www.lpcsd.org/district/coronavirus-update.

Altogether, 299 parents with students in the middle-high school responded to the survey. Of those, 61.9% said they plan to send their students back to school in September if the school is open.

Of 256 responses from parents who have kids in the elementary school, 62.1% said they would send their children to school in September if the school is open.

The district didn’t include the percentage of parents who said they wouldn’t send their children back to school this fall. Instead, the district indicated, in a pie chart showing the survey results, that the number of people unwilling to send their students back to school was far less than the roughly 23% of parents at both schools who hadn’t decided what to do yet.

Asked what the process would look like for parents who choose to keep their children at home, district Superintendent Roger Catania said parents are being asked to speak with their children’s principal.

“We make sure that we’re communicating with them so they’re making an informed decision,” Catania said. “When people raise that concern, we are recommending they talk with the school principal, make sure they know their options and what the (reopening) plan has in place for them.

“It’s been helpful to talk about students on a person-by-person basis,” he added.

At the Plattsburgh City School District, there’s a requirement included in its reopening plan that parents who choose to keep their children at home submit a doctor’s note, the Press-Republican reported Wednesday. Asked if Lake Placid has a similar requirement, Catania said no.

While the district’s focus is on returning to in-person learning — following public health recommendations such as daily health checks, thorough classroom cleaning, requiring students and staff to wear masks when social distancing isn’t possible, limiting the number of students in each classroom and limiting entry to school buildings — contingency plans are in place.

Altogether, the district has set five different plans, which administrators will be able to transition between as needed.

The plans range from traditional in-person instruction without restrictions to a hybrid model of some students home and others in school, to full remote instruction, which students experienced at the end of this past school year.

Elementary school

If the school’s main in-person plan is authorized by the state, at the elementary school, parents would be encouraged to transport their children to and from school if possible — though students can’t arrive before 8 a.m.

Parents won’t be allowed to enter the school building, so students who are dropped off will be escorted inside by a staff member. If a student is dropped off and there’s no one there to escort them, parents will be encouraged to call the school.

For students who need public transportation, there will be assigned seating on buses. Students will be required to enter buses from the back and wear masks at all times.

Elementary school students will be put into small groups to limit the possibility of mass exposure to the virus should one student test positive.

Teachers will be encouraged to utilize the school’s outdoor spaces — such as its trail network — for some classes, when possible. The use of “common areas,” such as cafeterias, will be limited at both school buildings.

Students in kindergarten and third grade will leave school at 2:45 p.m., kids in first and fourth grade will leave at 2:50 p.m., and students in second and fifth grade will leave at 3 p.m. each day.

In the elementary school’s reopening plan, recommendations for parents include making sure children have at least three masks, which are cleaned frequently; making sure kids practice good hygiene; and ensuring students stay home if they’re sick. The school also recommends that parents clean their children’s backpacks and outer clothing frequently, adding: “It is said that sunlight kills the virus.” There is no data that supports this claim. In fact, virologist Juan Leon told NPR in April that past research on SARS, a different type of coronavirus related to the one behind the current pandemic, found that exposing the virus to sunlight for 15 minutes didn’t reduce its infectivity at all.

Middle-high school

Middle-high school students who walk to school will be asked to enter the school through the cafeteria door, where they will be screened by a staff member. Students who arrive by car will have to wait in their cars until a staff member takes their temperature and they’re cleared to enter the building. Parents who send their kids to school by bus will be asked to screen their child before they leave each morning. The school has provided a form for parents to fill out at https://tinyurl.com/lpcsdhealthcheck. Students who take the bus will be screened again by a staff member when they arrive at school, then enter the building through the rear entrance. No students will be allowed to enter the building until 7:20 a.m., according to the school’s reopening plan.

All middle-high school students will be segmented into “cohorts,” or groups of 10 to 12 people, and they will stay in those groups for most of the day.

Dismissal at the middle-high school will start at 2 p.m. Students won’t have a 10th period.