Rome, N.Y. - After a one week delay of the anticipated start date, Rome students are returning to the classroom for hybrid learning on Monday, February 1. With Governor Cuomo announcing that Oneida County is no longer under Covid-19 yellow zone restrictions, the requirements needed for school districts to reopen are no longer necessary.
Meaning that districts no longer require 20% of students and faculty (combined) to be tested. Rome did halt this testing process and in tonight's meeting Superintendent Peter Blake thanked those who volunteered to be tested and nursing staff.
The public was able to ask questions during the meeting. One question was: why are students only returning in hybrid form and when can they return full-time?
“We have been informed, I agree with (member of the public who asked the question) saying the belief is that it's one or the other - social distancing or masks. I agree with that interpretation, however, when we as superintendents put pressure on our political folks and SED (state education department) on this topic we are told it’s not one or the other, it is both. So that is the reason why you still must see social distancing in schools at this time,” said Blake.
The board also discussed the district's budget. Superintendent Blake says that any state aid withheld from school districts last year and this school year will be restored in full within the next two years.
“We’re going to be reduced about six million dollars in state aid. In total aid, it’s about flat. Because what they Governor’s done is he’s cut state aid and plugged the whole with the Federal aid. For this year it’s pretty good, it’s much better than we expected. The problem will be next year and the year after when our aid numbers are 6-8 million dollars less than they used to be and our operating expenses continue to go up. That Federal money is not going to plug that gap every year,” said Blake.
In accordance with the state's decision, Rome student athletes will be able to resume practices and strength and conditioning sessions on Monday as well.
“The Mohawk Valley Oneida County superintendents, we are going to petition Section III to adjust the time frames that they are going to complete the next three seasons,” said Blake. “We’re petitioning to have a six-week Fall II season that starts a little bit later in March, runs to the end of April and then start the spring sports season in the end of April and run it through the end of June. Spring sports we’re hoping to run about nine weeks. School districts and athletic directors are trying to make sure the spring athletes get the longest possible season because they lost their entire season last year.”
Oneida County is still awaiting guidance from the department of health on when and if the winter sports season can begin.
The next committee meeting is February 8, 2021.