Laptops insurance against COVID-19

Catskill High School at 341 W. Main St. File photo

CATSKILL — As Catskill schools gear up for another historic year, the district is handing out chromebook laptops to students in the event learning has to switch online.

“Students will have the chromebooks available in case there is a need for the district to switch to virtual instruction at any given moment,” the district said in a statement Tuesday.

School starts Sept. 13 in the district, and chromebooks are being distributed through Friday.

During the 2020-21 school year, chromebooks were distributed April 3 during an extended school closure mandated by the state through April 15, according to the school’s website. At the time, chromebooks were limited in supply, allowing one laptop per family. This year, each student will have their own.

The school’s approved reopening plan for the year offers a fully remote option on a very limited basis with required medical documentation. The courses are not taught by a district teacher but rather Questar III BOCES staff.

Remote instruction for medical exemptions in grades K-6 includes scheduled video class sessions five days a week, while instruction for grades 7-12 consist of teacher-led service with self-guided online coursework with scheduled video class sessions.

According to the Catskill Elementary School reopening presentation, chromebooks are the preferred technology for remote learning.

“Chromebooks are strongly encouraged over phones or tablets, which may not be compatible with all learning apps and assignments,” the school said.

For families without internet access, the district will provide wireless hotspots, the school said.

Nine months ago, all Catskill schools switched to remote learning from Jan. 11-15.

“Out of an abundance of caution and under the advice of representatives from the Greene County Department of Public Health, all District schools will continue with remote instruction for the week of Jan. 11-15, 2021,” Catskill District Superintendent Ronel Cook said in a statement Friday.

Last Jan. 28, Catskill High School had to switch to remote learning after a student tested positive.

The middle and elementary school campuses were not be affected, Cook said.

“I know this may cause a temporary inconvenience for our families, but please be assured that the safety and well-being of our students and staff is our priority,” Cook said. “Any employee or student directed to quarantine must be cleared by the Department of Health before they can return to school. Our schools continue to follow all of the necessary health and safety precautions on our campuses, as outlined in our reopening plan.”

At the end of the 2020-21 school year, Catskill Central School District reported 72 total cases, according to the state Department of Health. The district serves approximately 1,550 students in three school buildings, according to its website.

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