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Oswego School District plans for more in-person learning after change in state guidelines

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The Oswego City School District was ready to bring the remainder of their students back for in-person learning four days a week starting April 19, but just as their preparations came to a close the state released new reopening guidelines earlier this month and Oswego had to start from scratch.

“We were ready to bring kids back right away,” said the district’s superintendent, Dr. Mathis Calvin. “And then out the blue, we get this new guidance, which really upended everything that we had worked very hard and diligently for.”

The state’s new guidelines require smaller group learning for schools in areas with more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, which includes Oswego County.

So, the district’s first reopening plan, which planned to bring all students back to in-person learning four days a week, got scrapped and Calvin rushed to make new arrangements noting that many of his students are still struggling with remote learning.

“Some of our kids you really miss having that day-to-day interaction with the classroom teacher and really need that day-to-day interaction,” he said.

He also said that parents were largely understanding of their situation while they readjusted their reopening plan.

“I think we have quite a few parents who understand that a lot of this is really out of our hands,” said Calvin.

However, he said he does understand that remote learning has been an added challenge for parents as well.

“At the same time, I've also heard from parents that they really want to get their kids back in school, you know, as soon as we possibly can for more days of instruction,” he said.

Under their current plan, students in kindergarten through third grade were already fully in person. Under their new plan, which Calvin unveiled in a letter to families on Tuesday night, fourth through sixth-grade students will be brought back full time as well.

Calvin says the school’s community has shown immense support for the district as it overcomes this setback.

“A great big thank you to our community who has been willing to support in any way possible,” he said.

While middle and high school students are sticking to a hybrid model, for now, younger students are expected back in the classroom full-time starting Monday, April 26.