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Starpoint Central reducing class sizes for in-school learning

"I feel 100-percent safe going back”
Posted at 5:52 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 17:52:28-04

LOCKPORT, NY (WKBW) — The Starpoint Central School District says it's working to answer parents questions about its reopen plan.

The district is working to shrink class sizes and re-create classroom learning.

Inside classrooms, there are fewer desks now spaced six feet apart and students would wear face masks.

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Inside a classroom in the Starpoint School District.

Superintendent Dr. Sean Croft says he considers the district's reopen plan a "fluid document".

The plan calls to bring back students in grades 6 through 12 a couple of days a week to reduce class size. Students would be required to work remotely on days they're not in school.

“We have to get class sizes down to about 13 to 14, 6 through 12 — the only way to do that is to split the population in half, so half will be coming on Monday, the other half on Tuesday and so on,” Croft said.

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Inside the Starpoint School District.

But for the younger students, the district is planning to return all K-through-five students five days a week.

“We just think it is a crucial learning time for those children, especially with core reading and math skills,” remarked Croft.

“Are you okay with coming back?” Buckley asked a Starpoint fifth grader. “Yes,” replied Sarah Mollosky.

Mollosky said she wants to go back to school.

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Starpoint fifth grader Sarah Mollosky said she wants to go back to school.

“Because I feel safe here. Because I know the school is a really good school and I feel 100-percent safe going back,” Mollosky answered.

But for students with medical conditions, family members with health issues or parents who are simply too scared, families can enroll in Starpoint's “Online Learning Academy".

500 students are already enrolled.

“And then we knew we had this other population from surveys that they were just nervous about coming back and sending their child back,” explained Croft.

Superintendent Croft says Governor Andrew Cuomo threw schools a major challenge last Friday, saying it will be up to districts to test students for COVID-19.

“That was a real curve ball because at no point in the last six months was testing within a school ever discussed,” Croft noted.

Croft says his district is working with the Niagara County Health Department to create a protocol to tell parents where students can get tested.

“Because right now there is no testing that's going to be done in schools, so at least we are going to articulate a plan to communicate with parents where to go to get that testing,” Croft said.

Schools in Western New York receive grants from Dollar General
Inside a classroom at the Starpoint School District.

The superintendent says they're also trying to figure out when students can take "mask breaks”.

But he also wants to make sure students don't gather to close when changing classes, like the image posted on social media from a school in Georgia, where students packed a hallway.

“Masks are required in the hallway — that's going to be a big one because you can't guarantee that you can socially distance,” explained Dr. Croft.

Contract tracing will be done by health department, but Croft said the district will work in partnership to assist as they will be screening all visitors into school buildings.

Parents will be asked to check their child’s temperature at home, but the school will also conduct student screening.

“If child is symptomatic we’re going to ask parents to screen, obviously at home, but also doing temperature screenings here. A child would be sent to nurse, sent home and urged to contact their health care provider,” Croft responded. “We can’t mandate that a child receives the test, we can monitor symptoms and we would hope that the student would get a test, inform us that it was negative or stay out of school they are a-symptomatic.”

Almost all of the districts 2,900 students rely on transportation to attend school, but there will be new limits for the number of students allowed on the buses to maintain social distancing.

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Dr. Sean Croft, Superintendent of Schools, explains how they are getting ready to reopen.

The superintendent says many parents already drive their children. Croft said he's hoping parents will transport their children to school to help with the district's new transportation burden.

Students will be allowed to eat lunch in cafeterias as well as a gym, but those spaces are also being transformed.

Large lunch tables have been removed and replaced with desks to safely separate students during meals.

But the goal in the reopen is to bring students back into a safe environment and provide in-school learning.

Mollosky described being away from school during the pandemic as “terrible.”

“I miss all my teachers. I don’t feel smart without my teachers,” laughed Mollsky.

The first day of school for all Starpoint students September 10th.