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CNY schools open with masks, temperature checks, small classes, no hugs; ‘the new normal’

Syracuse.com logo Syracuse.com 9/10/2020 By Elizabeth Doran, syracuse.com
a man wearing a hat: Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. First grade teacher Shelah Mulhere wears a face guard while teaching © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. First grade teacher Shelah Mulhere wears a face guard while teaching

Thousands of Central New York students headed back inside classrooms this week, and more will return next week as they restart school amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Other students are starting their classes through online learning, working from their homes all or part of the time.

"It’s the new normal,'' said Jordan-Elbridge Superintendent Jim Froio. “It’s still not normal, but it’s more normal than it used to be.”

a police car parked in a parking lot: Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Parents in their cars wait in line to drop off their child © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Parents in their cars wait in line to drop off their child

At schools that opened classrooms this week, students, teachers and staff wore masks, got their temperatures checked, filled out wellness forms and refrained from hugging those they missed and hadn’t seen in months.

Classrooms have fewer students, with desks spaced six feet apart. For the most part, students stayed in their seats in a classroom and teachers moved from class to class.

Cortney Stetson’s son, Owen, could hardly contain his excitement at starting first grade in school in the Jordan-Elbridge district.

Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. A student who's masks straps broke is escorted into the school for a new one © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. A student who's masks straps broke is escorted into the school for a new one

"He loved it,'' she said after the first day ended on Tuesday. “Masks, temp checks - it didn’t bother him at all. J-E did a great job, and Owen and I are so happy it’s five days a week.”

In March, all the schools in New York state shut down for in-person instruction due to the pandemic. Everyone had to adapt quickly to distance learning - which is still being used in many districts and is an option for any parents who chose that path for their kids this fall.

About 20 percent - 13,000 students - have opted to stay at home and do distance learning in Onondaga County. The rest - about 53,000 - will be going to class in schools all or part of each week.

In the Syracuse City School District, all 20,000 students will learn online until at least Oct. 2. Board members made that decision in August due to parents and teaches concerns about the pandemic.

a group of people holding wine glasses: Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. A student using the app checks in with Fred Montas head of the Upper School © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. A student using the app checks in with Fred Montas head of the Upper School

In Onondaga County, some schools — Jordan-Elbridge, Skaneateles, LaFayette and Manlius Pebble Hill — started classes this week right after Labor Day. These schools — along with Fabius-Pompey which starts a bit later — are bringing kids back five days a week for in-person unless parents decide to keep their children home and do distance or remote learning.

a group of people sitting at a desk in a room: Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Tables where normally two student would sit are now limited to just one © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Tables where normally two student would sit are now limited to just one

Remote learners also started at many schools this week. At J-E, that’s about 10 percent of the students. In LaFayette, it’s closer to 30 percent.

LaFayette Superintendent Jeremy Belfield said it was heartwarming to see students back in the buildings.

"It was a great first day,’' he said. “Staff is doing an amazing job of connecting with our in-person learners and digital learners.”

Most students have to wear masks all day except for occasional breaks - while some districts - about 30 percent statewide - don’t require them while kids are seated in the classroom. Some schools are making it more fun by offering masks with school logos.

a group of people standing in the grass: Janice Schue, JEDIS Principal at Jordan-Elbridge, leans in for an elbow bump as fourth and fifth grade students head inside for the second day of classes Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. © Lauren Long | llong@syracuse.com/Lauren Long | llong@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Janice Schue, JEDIS Principal at Jordan-Elbridge, leans in for an elbow bump as fourth and fifth grade students head inside for the second day of classes Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

There were bumps, of course.

At J-E, there was a delay as the youngest kids got off the bus and into the building. Because they didn’t know their way around, they had to be escorted with proper social distancing and that took time, Froio said. Now they will have bus aides waiting to take them to their class.

"The kids are just so happy to be back in school,'' Froio said. “Even though it’s not the social atmosphere it was before this, they all seemed to think it was a lot better than not being in school at all.”

Schools have pledged to make remote learning more interactive this fall, with more lessons at specific times, more engagement and attendance will be taken.

a woman standing next to a car: Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Parents drop off student at the school © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Parents drop off student at the school

Some school districts are starting a bit later - Fayetteville-Manlius will start Friday with one group of hybrid students, Jamesville-DeWitt and Liverpool on Monday and some like East Syracuse Minoa are phasing in over the next several weeks. Syracuse is the latest to start with in-person instruction Oct. 2.

MORE STORIES ON EDUCATING CNY

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Masks, air purifiers could slash odds of coronavirus spread in classrooms: SU report

a group of people sitting at a table in a room: Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Classes show where distancing is practiced © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus. Classes show where distancing is practiced

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Elizabeth Doran covers education, suburban government and development, breaking news and more. Got a tip, comment or story idea? Contact her anytime 315-470-3012 or email edoran@syracuse.com

a couple of people that are talking to each other: Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus © Dennis Nett | dnett@syracuse.com/syracuse.com/TNS Today was the second day of school at Manlius Pebble Hill where things went smoothly. Health protocols like wearing masks and hand sanitizers were available. The school also used an app where students and parents would check in stating there were no symptoms or exposure to the coronavirus

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