WESTMORELAND, N.Y. -- Westmoreland School District Superintendent Rocco Migliori and some School Board Members are traveling around the district looking for additional input from the community before submitting their reopening plan to the state.
The Westmoreland District is planning to have all K-6th grade students attend school every day, and grades 7 through 12 would be staggered every other day with virtual learning on days home. Everyone will go through daily temperature checks and questionnaires to keep the spread of COVID-19 to a minimum, but Rocco Migliori says probably the biggest concern the district is hearing is the use of facemasks.
"I think it’s just the notion of kids having to wear masks all day. Whether or not they can do it. Whether or not it’s appropriate. What we’re hearing from parents is that they want their kids back in school. They think that it’s necessary for learning as well as social and emotional needs of kids, but they’re concerned about the masks," he said.
Students would be permitted to take the masks off during lunch, and likely get some breaks throughout the day, but there’s still concerns parents like Kelley McLaughlin are hearing from other parents.
"Children who have that concern and being confined like that… if they could go and remove it partially throughout the day that would be more beneficial to kids that have you know fear and anxiety over wearing a mask all day."
Rocco Migliori explains how busing presents another set of challenges.
"They’ll be one kid per seat, so about 20 kids on a bus, and one of the things that we are asking parents is do everything possible to get your kids there using your own transportation."
Driving their kids to school could be a problem for some parents, but Kelley McLaughlin is hopeful the community can find answers.
"Even if they did have to stagger the times, there is solutions."
Each school district will be faced with individual challenges for accommodating class sizes and how to utilize the space within each school for proper social distancing. There are still plenty of circumstances surrounding the opening of schools, and the requirements for keeping schools open will likely change around the development of COVID-19.