At the Schoharie CSD Board of Education meeting on May 28, 2020, it was announced that 6th grade will become part of the Jr./Sr. High School beginning in the 2020-21 school year. This change is necessitated in part by social distancing constraints created by the COVID-19 health crisis, but also as part of the effort to right-size the District in these difficult financial times.
As we work through all this entails, supporting you and your children through this transition is at the forefront of our concerns. Although all children are missing traditional graduation opportunities due to the health crisis, we will work to provide our fifth graders a memorable experience full of love and support. We will provide further information to our current 5th grade families as it is developed. Dr. Calacone, the Jr./Sr. High School principal, and Mrs. Kenyon, the Junior High counselor, will be in touch regarding transition activities in August to help with the adjustment from the Elementary to the Junior High School.
While we understand this is occurring under less than ideal circumstances, in a year that has seen far more upheaval in the normal school day than any previous year in memory, the district is taking this step because we know it’s the right thing to do at this time. Currently, the Elementary School has 560 students and one principal, while the Jr./Sr. High School has 388 students and a principal and assistant principal.This change will help rightsize the Elementary School.
We know for next year’s sixth graders and their families, moving up to a bigger school with bigger and older peers around them, might be a daunting experience. But we will ensure that they are in a safe and comfortable environment so they can focus on learning.
Sixth grade students have historically already been going to the Jr./Sr. High School for art, music, physical education, band and chorus. Also, the ongoing building project had already included a distancing plan that would keep 7th and 8th grade students apart from high school students. That plan will now include 6th grade.
While we don’t know yet what the start of the next school year will look like, we know it will be different. School districts in New York, including Schoharie CSD, are preparing for three basic scenarios. These include continued remote learning with no students on site; a mix of remote learning and students receiving in-school instruction; a full return of students. It is expected that any return of students, whether it is limited or not, will require strict safety precautions and protocols. The state has required each school district to submit re-opening plans in July.
Our staff and faculty will receive training on how to provide instruction – whether it is remote or in-person – in a manner that meets state mandates and federal guidelines. When students do return, we need to ensure we can operate safely. The health and wellness of our students, staff, families and the greater community is the most important factor for whatever decisions are made.