Add the 12 public school districts across the Twin Counties to the growing list of government entities, departments, agencies, leagues and businesses asked to develop and submit plans for their phase 4 reopening.

The state Education Department last Thursday released guidance for schools as district administrators and educators plan for resuming classes in September. This will be a major undertaking amid pervasive uncertainty about the reopening of schools as the coronavirus surges anew.

One admirable accomplishment here is the transparency of the effort. Input for the guidance was gathered from discussions among hundreds of experts, parents, students, teachers, administrators and school board members. Few people if any can justly claim they were shut out of the process.

Another achievement is the scope of the guidance. The 145-page state Education Department document released Thursday addresses issues of health and safety, facilities, transportation, school schedules, budgets and other components of reopening in the fall.

Hudson officials are reviewing the document and meeting regularly in subcommittees. It is unlikely Hudson schools will have 100% in-person instruction in the fall, but will use a hybrid model of in-person and remote classes. The details are still being worked out.

The Catskill Central School District is taking a somewhat different path. Officials will review the state document and seek input from the community to come up with a final plan for the fall. Information from surveys will be used to help create the plans.

Five months ago, there was hope that the coronavirus would recede enough to allow 100% in-person classroom instruction. Regular discussion among committees and public participation through surveys are separate means to the same end. Confidence in the state’s guidance and the plans developed by the school districts is needed to sustain a new year in which classrooms are alive again.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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