ROME, N.Y. -- The RFA campus will remain fairly quiet for the first six weeks of school.
Rome Superintendent of Schools Peter Blake explains how the reopening plan is scheduled to go, ahead of the first day of school on Sept. 14.
"We’re opening remote. Going slow. We’ve got some special education students that start on Monday. About 127 Students will attend in person on Monday with special needs, and then our BOCES Students are attending the BOCES programs," he said.
Rome Free Academy classes will be virtual beginning on Monday, however the district is planning on bringing students back into the building full time.
"Our target date is Oct. 26. As of right now we plan to start welcoming kids back in that Monday. So our plan is first six weeks remote, and during that time frame we’re going to spend more time building a real truly hybrid model. Our goal is to have kids that do want to come to school be in school five days a week," he said.
The district decided not to implement a hybrid model for the school year, for many reasons.
"We can’t financially afford it. We know that there’s issues with state finances coming down the road for school districts. Transportation wise we did not have enough time to prepare for…and/or if we even knew if we had enough buses to operate the number of students we needed to bring in on a hybrid model, and then the short timeframe to get everything done with the amount of different buildings we have and staff and students. It was not a smart option, or a safe option to try and rush together into a hybrid," said Blake.
Blake says the district is planning on about 20 - 30% of the students to continue with remote learning, but there’s still enough room to accommodate the remainder that do come back.
"Consistency is key I think for many kids. Especially our young learners, so our plan is to take the next six weeks, plan for that five-day in person instruction for those that want it, but also we know there’s going to be a section of folks that want to stay home, and then find a way to build a model so that our teachers don’t have to do both at the same time when that day comes," he said.
Other districts in the area, including Utica and New Hartford, are also starting the year with fully remote learning.