Despite closing, Oswego County schools still providing educational opportunities

Educational materials are laid out for students or parents to pick up in the Phoenix school district.

By JEREMY HOUGHTALING

jhoughtaling@palltimes.com

OSWEGO — Classes may not be in session, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be educational opportunities for local learners stuck at home.

With Oswego County in an official state of emergency due to the coronavirus, each of the nine Oswego County school districts are taking a different approach to distribute lessons while schools are closed, educational officials told The Palladium-Times on Tuesday.

Oswego City School District Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey said his staff had been working around the clock to put together a comprehensive online instructional resource bank for students.

“Kids will be able to go to the main page of our website, click on the tab for grade level or content, and open up a variety of resources,” Goewey told The Palladium-Times Tuesday.

Goewey described the resources as “enrichment, review and an extension of what they’ve learned” since the students won’t return to face-to-face classes until at least mid-April. The resources will be updated throughout the upcoming weeks.

“It provides an opportunity to stay engaged with math, literacy and other subject areas while they’re home,” Goewey said.

In Fulton, packets were mailed out Tuesday afternoon with grade level-appropriate enrichment materials, officials said.

Superintendent Brian Pulvino said the school is getting input from parents and families during its daily nutrition program to assess using hard copy or online materials. The goal is to make lessons accessible to all students, according to Pulvino.

“We’re using a methodical approach to provide the best opportunities for our students but nothing is a replacement for being in school and having access to teachers,” Pulvino said.

Like anything else, Pulvino expects the educational plan to evolve. He said he’s continuing to monitor press conferences from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and keep tabs on guidance from other state and federal officials.

“You don’t know if this is going to be a relatively short period or a long term thing,” he said. “We don’t know.”

The Hannibal Central School District is distributing packets with not only academic activities but ways to engage and encourage students, Superintendent Christopher Staats said. Some packets were mailed, while others were picked up at the schools’ food distribution events. The school is also planning to loan out some Chromebook laptop computers for online learning.

Staats is tackling the issue with an optimistic approach, and is still operating under the assumption his students will return in mid-April — unless he is told for sure otherwise.

“I could never imagine this happening in my career and hope it never happens again,” Staats told The Palladium-Times Tuesday. “But I get comfort in knowing people continue to step up in tough moments.”

For the Phoenix Central School District, materials may be online or hard copy, with the goal to continue learning, practice and make teacher connections, Superintendent Chris Byrne said.

“Our teachers are working very hard to prepare instructional materials for students,” Byrne said. “Each school will have a pick-up location ready for parents or students to come to school to pick up their work.”

Materials will be available from noon to 6 p.m. today at Michael A. Maroun Elementary School (access through back entrance only), Emerson J. Dillon Middle School in the front foyer and at the John C. Birdlebough High School gymnasium. Materials not picked up will be delivered to students’ homes on Friday or Monday, officials said.

“A tremendous amount of credit goes to our dedicated faculty and staff in planning and preparing for this closure,” Byrne said. “Faculty and staff came together and went above and beyond my highest expectations to make sure that our students are able to continue their education at home and that they have the food they need.”

Pulaski Academy and Central School District Superintendent Tom Jennings said his teachers are developing lessons that are a combination of paper-based and electronic to accommodate all students.

“I have been heartened by the support of our community and the dedication of our staff,” Jennings said.

Mexico Academy and Central School District Superintendent Sean Bruno took to Twitter to update his community with a picture of the high school gym with tables full of packets ready for students.

“Amazing, caring and dedicated educators came in after schools were closed for students to create educational support materials! Organized and ready to be delivered by the best bus drivers in the world!” the tweet said.

Packets with educational activities and information about meal plans for students in grades PreK-4 will be delivered Wednesday, while packets for grades five through12 will be delivered on Thursday, Mexico education officials said. Laptops and/or musical instruments will also be delivered, but someone needs to be home to sign a receipt.

“Our entire staff’s response to come together from meals to lesson plans for the weeks ahead, materials and a plan to transport all this has been among the most inspiring things I’ve seen,” Bruno said. “We’ve come together to help students in every way possible during this time, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

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