GASD to shift to 4 day in-person learning for UPK-5 students March 16

GASD students and families,

I am excited to announce that in a few weeks we will be opening our elementary schools for in person instruction four days a week, effectively eliminating the Purple and Gold hybrid attendance groupings for UPK-5 students. Here is how it will work:

General Education

  • This change for elementary students will be implemented on Tuesday, March 16 following the March 15 Superintendent’s Conference Day (no school for all students that day).
  • UPK-5 students will attend school in person Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
  • Middle and high school students will remain on the Purple/Gold hybrid model at this time due to transportation and classroom/building spacing safety protocols.
  • All UPK-12 students will continue on a Remote Only Learning schedule on Wednesdays as they do now.
  • Some bus routes will be changing to accommodate additional student passengers. Families will be notified by mail in early March if their bus routes/times are changing.
  • Students who have chosen Remote Only Learning will remain on their same schedules with increased opportunities for live streaming of instruction. Some ROL students wanting to return for in person instruction may be eligible based on specific school and classroom sizes. If space exists, parents will be notified through Parent Square and a timestamp procedure (first come/first serve) will be conducted for each individual class which may result in a waiting list. The timestamp will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 when eligible ROL parents with class openings will receive a Parent Square notification and quick online form to complete (if interested in having their child return to in person). Deadline to complete the form is midnight on Feb. 17.
  • An online forum on these changes was held for all elementary parents on Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. Tune into the district’s YouTube channel to watch a recording of this forum.

Special Education

  • All students in K-5 receiving Consultant Teacher services (currently following hybrid schedule), will return to four days a week as indicated above.
  • All students in Special Class (K-5) currently attending four days a week will now attend a partial day on Wednesday in addition to the current schedule of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. There will be no change to the Secondary Special class model at this time.
  • With the change in scheduling, we will no longer offer in-person-related services on Wednesday beginning the week of March 15.

Why the change at this time?

As your educators, we realize that school is where our children should be for their academic, social and emotional wellbeing. We know COVID-19 changed this for us. But after nearly a year, data has shown that with proper safety protocols in place, schools are the safest place for students to be even during this pandemic.

Additionally, the holiday COVID infection spike appears to be lessening. Daily health department statistics show that cases are decreasing in our state and region and the vaccination process has begun. This week the 7-day new COVID cases average in the Mohawk Valley dipped below 4 percent and the governor, county and Board of Education have given the go ahead for some winter sports like basketball to be played without spectators and with specific safety protocols in place.

This is encouraging news in what has been a long and extremely challenging time for all of us. I commend everyone for being stringent with the safety protocols we have in place as this has helped us get to this point. Please be assured, however, that if conditions change we will not hesitate to shift to full or partial remote instruction as safety remains our top priority. As a district, we will continue to report new cases through our notification system as they arise and follow the guidance of our state and county health officials.

Thank you for your patience and please don’t forget to tune into our elementary parent forum on Wednesday evening.

Richard Ruberti
GASD Superintendent of Schools