Principal’s message from Aug. 12, 2020

August 12, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians and Students:

Welcome back to another school year at BKW Secondary School. It has been a long time since we have been in the building but you were always on the minds of the BKW staff as we have all been working to make the return of students to the building a safe reality. To this end there will be a few changes to the 2020-2021 school year that I want to share with you.

We are aware of the tremendous value of having students attend school in person where direct instruction and support are provided by the teacher. However, due to social distancing guidelines, we are unable to accommodate all students in the building at the same time while ensuring a six feet distance between students in the classroom. Consequently, the school was forced to make some alterations to adapt to the new requirements stipulated by the governor, New York State Education Department and the Department of Health in order to keep our students and staff safe.

BKW Secondary school will be conducting instruction in a hybrid fashion for the opening of school in September and for as long as we are required to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Under this hybrid model of education, students will attend classes both in person and virtually on a rotation basis. In order to accommodate all classes, including classes that are typically held only on alternate days, students will attend classes in the building on a two consecutive days cycle and attend classes virtually via Google Classroom for another two consecutive days: all classes will be divided into two groups, one group will come to the building for two days in a row while the other group
remains at home and attend the classes through Google Classroom. The two groups will rotate in school and Google Classroom every two days.

All classes will be divided alphabetically by last names A-K and L-Z. There will be some adjustments to this in order to balance out the number of students in each instructional group of students in each class whenever necessary. We will make every effort to include siblings in the same groups if we have to adjust the groups by hand.

Once in the building, all students will be expected to maintain social distancing whenever possible. Classrooms will have only the number of students to ensure that there is a six feet separation between students. We will encourage students to practice the same distance of separation when they are in the hallways. To this effort, we will not be able to assign lockers to students during social distancing. If lockers were to be assigned, we would have had to assign every fourth or fifth locker to a student. We do not have sufficient lockers to do this and assigning each student a locker. We are sorry for this inconvenience.

Students will also be kept in their cohort as much as it is feasible. That is, groups of students will remain together so as not to cause cross contamination if someone were to get sick. Some students will remain within one classroom for some of their classes while the teachers come to the classrooms to them. This will reduce the number of students in the hallways between bells. This restriction of students’ movement will not always be
possible. Whenever students are in the hallways, we will be requiring them to move briskly from one class to the next without loitering in the hallways. While we are still fine tuning the details of students’ breakfast and lunches, we do know that students will eat in the classrooms in their small cohort groups.

For the safety of everyone in the building, hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the building. Washing of hands before and after meals will be encouraged. Wiping down of personal spaces within the classrooms will be encouraged. Wearing of face masks will be encouraged. In addition to all of these, our custodial staff will be sanitizing classrooms whenever the rooms are empty during the day, each afternoon and over the weekend. Frequently touched areas such as door knobs will be sanitized numerous times throughout the day. However, all classroom doors will remain open
throughout the day to negate the need for staff and students to be touching the door knobs.

The school district has given parents the choice to choose full remote learning for their children for either health reason or just the fear or uncertainty of the health crisis we are in. Some parents have opted for full remote learning. Whether students are learning remotely on an everyday basis or they are on the hybrid—alternating in-school and virtual—all students will be expected to attend classes at their regularly scheduled class times based on their schedule. Teachers will be taking daily attendance of students attending classes in the building and virtually during each period. Parents, please assist us in ensuring that your child does not fall behind because he or she is not attending virtual classes regularly. It might be tempting to remain in bed later when at home but students still need to establish a Monday to Friday routine of attending and participating in their classes whenever they are at home as if they were in the building.

The school day this year will be from 8:55 AM to 3:00 PM. There will be no after school activities. All students must leave the building promptly at 3:00 PM each day. There will not be any 3:30 PM buses. Students will not be issued any late bus passes. Only authorized students who remain for sports or after-school detention will take the 5:00 PM buses home. We are still awaiting further guidance on whether we will be having fall sports.

It is without a doubt that this school year will be a challenging one for everyone. However, we have all learned some lessons from the abrupt disruption of the school year last spring. We are more prepared to accept the challenges that we face. There might still be some unforeseen challenges ahead, but I am confident that together we, the parents and staff of the BKW school community, will be able to tackle any situation that comes our way during the 2020-2021 school year. We do miss seeing and interacting with the students. With all the forecasted challenges ahead, I do know that BKW Secondary School’s teachers and staff have the experience and zeal to make this school year a very productive one.

We eagerly anticipated the return of our students and the parents’ continued support and input in how we can make BKW an even better school community.

Mark A. Pitterson, Ed.D.
BKW Secondary School