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T o the Editor:

I cannot in good conscience sit back and watch what is unfolding at the Granville High School with regards to the reopening plan put together and promoted by our school superintendent.

Phil Berke

In last week’s Sentinel he is quoted as stating: “The plan is very similar to the districts throughout the Capital Region.” This is definitely not the case and this plan is very different in the material and basic parts from the many published plans that I have read from schools near us and farther away.

I should also note I have looked at all of our schools’ floor plans. This plan is not good and is definitely not in the best interests of our high school students.

The one phrase that immediately comes to mind is “far out.”

The best way I can think of putting it is our kids are being thrown under the bus and their parents, as well as the community, should not stand for it and it will ruin the final year of our seniors and deny them, as well as the other high school students, a meaningful educational year of instruction and could very well affect sports and extra-curricular participation.

All of the plans I have seen and read  — with the exception of Granville — provide for a hybrid plan which all include two days EACH and every week of in-person class instruction for each high school student, grades 9-12, and remote, virtual, instruction two or  three days each week.  This is accomplished by these schools dividing the four high school classes in half and each half going for in-person class instruction two days each week and receiving remote, virtual, instruction the other two or three days.

Our superintendent in his plan provides for two five-week sessions, in a semester with two semesters in the school year with Freshmen and Sophomores starting off the first five weeks alternating with two days in-person instruction each week for the full five weeks and remote instruction the other days and the Juniors and Seniors having no in person class instruction during that whole five week period and having ONLY remote instruction.

During the next five-week period this alternates with the Seniors and Juniors receiving in-person class instruction during this period and the Freshmen and Sophomores receiving full remote instruction with no in-person instruction. The bottom line is that for five long weeks only one-half of the students will be at the high school. Unbelievable.

For many in the high school not being present during this long five-week period believe me will cause emotional and stress problems (called stir crazy) as well as serious participating problems in our sport programs, which are scheduled to start Sept. 21 and if delayed I assume at a later date, and all other extra-curricular activities. This is crazy and makes absolutely no sense.

This plan defies all logic and common sense. It takes just as much room capacity for in-person class instruction on an alternating two-days-a-week basis as it does under this five-week plan and the transportation required would be exactly the same. This is not a simple matter at this time of tweaking the plan.

The basis of the plan must be changed and amended substantially and filed with the State. If our superintendent refuses to do so then the BOE must regain control of the decision-making process and do so.

Unfortunately there is more. The plan provides that the four third grade classes are to be moved out of the Mary J. Tanner School to the Granville Elementary School. This is not necessary and would require much work on the part of the teachers moving all their educational materials and teaching aids collected over many years and taking the kids from very familiar surroundings to new strange ones.

Head Start is not in any way a part of our School System. They are an independent entity supported by federal grants which I in the past have helped their main program in Hudson Falls obtain. They presently occupy three big rooms at the Mary J. Tanner School by lease which can and should be used as classrooms for the third grades. At my insistence there was put in the Head Start lease a provision that the lease could be terminated at any time which should and must be done.

To conclude I do want to make clear that my stating that the plan must provide for in-person class instruction at the high school for at least two days each week for each student means of course if the students are agreeable to having such instruction. They should definitely be given this option.

The health and safety of all our students is of paramount importance.  Whether the students of our schools should opt out and receive full remote instruction is a very important and difficult decision that the parents and guardians and our students must make. It is also is a very difficult and important decision for our teachers and staff.

Phil Berke,

Editor’s note: Phil Berke is a former member of the Granville Board of Education, recently finishing a three-year term.

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