To the editor,
The Oswego City School District community has had enough of the current situation.
The Oswego Middle School and Oswego High School students have not been to school since March 2020. Gov. Andrew Cuomo permitted schools to re-open in August 2020. The Oswego City School District developed a re-opening plan that encompassed a hybrid learning plan for K-6 only. This hybrid plan was similar in nature and consistent with reopening plans developed in other central New York school districts.
I’ve read through the OCSD reopening plan several times. There is not a hint of an idea for a potential hybrid plan for OMS and OHS students. The big question here is: why?
Why was a return to inperson school plan not developed for OMS and OHS students? Districts all over central New York have had secondary students back in their buildings, at a minimum of two days a week since September with clusters of minor shutdowns over infection upticks.
The district has failed to provide the best possible education during this pandemic for their secondary students. I inquired back in October as to why OMS and OHS students were not in a hybrid learning plan. Excuses provided to me cited high numbers of infections (which was not true at the time), an inability to clean the classrooms, concerns for the safety of the students and staff, and difficulty in creating student’s schedules.
Since October, the only information being provided to parents from Superintendent Dr. Mathis Calvin are daily “copy and paste” e-mails about how many students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, within district buildings that are completely empty of both. This information is useless to the community at this time. I am told these e-mails are sent as a measure of transparency to the community.
With that being said, the community would prefer transparency about the status of the Oswego High School building which is still under construction, and unable to receive students in many areas of the building as of mid-January, 2021. Why has the contractor been allowed to delay the capital improvement project, and delay turning the school back over to the district? It seems very clear to community members that the OCSD has had no plans to bring OHS students back into the building, and therefore the delay in construction has been allowed to happen. This is completely unacceptable and this issue has not been made transparent to the community.
Our students continue to fall behind intellectually, mentally, and socially by this continued full time remote learning. Not only have other districts implemented an in-person plan, but they have also adapted to the fluidity of the pandemic, while OCSD sits idle and remains closed. This is unacceptable to the students and to the taxpayers.
Still, as of mid-January, there is no plan for secondary students to return to the buildings. The OCSD Board of Education has stated there are committees working on “plans.”
For reasons unknown, the reopening plan was approved in August with no resolution for 7-12 students to return to school in-person. At the very least, why haven’t any new “plans” been in the works within the last 4 months of the school year? Why does the OCSD still need to work through the logistics of “cleaning” for the secondary in-person return? Other districts in central New York have been doing this since September; we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Thetaxpayers, parents, and students continue to wait.
The students continue this monotonous, disenchanted cycle of remote learning nearing almost a full calendar year. As with the K-6 plan, parents of 7-12 should still have the option to keep their children home for fully remote if that is their wish but I predict the majority in the district will opt for an in-person hybrid plan. An effective hybrid plan should involve synchronous learning for the days the students are home, and not be limited to just “homework” on those remote days.
The OCSD Board of Education needs to adapt to this pandemic rather than sit back and shelter. The community deserves this, and more importantly the students, deserve better.