Grade assignments for next year, spring events remain in limbo

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While there is no state information yet on students’ grade level assignments for 2020-21 in relation to COVID-19 impacts, the Rome school district anticipates the matter will be left for school districts to decide.

The subject was addressed in an updated Q&A section Sunday on the school district website, among such other topics as impacts on traditional spring high school events, the status of kindergarten registration, and no longer being able to accommodate new requests for Chromebooks.

In addition, district Superintendent Peter C. Blake said in a video message on the district website that decisions on categories including events and graduation are still to come.

• The district has “received many questions about what will happen with grade level assignments for the 2020-2021 school year. Many parents are concerned that this situation will require their children to repeat a grade level,” the Q&A said.

It further said ‘I do not anticipate that there will be any direct guidance on this topic” from the state Education Department, and “we will be left to make a local decision on the topic.”

But it also noted “it is still too soon to provide any form of concrete answer....”

The Q&A additionally indicated “I have said that on a matter of personal opinion, children should not be punished due to this situation as it is completely out of their control;” Blake previously has addressed the matter in his district blog.

The Q&A said “I believe when the time comes to make these decisions, 99% of all teachers statewide will do the right thing by their students and assign a grade level that is fair for next year.”

The state Board of Regents on Monday announced that Regents exams
scheduled for June would be canceled. More information on that decision was expected today as Betty A. Rosa, chancellor of the Board of Regents, said in her Monday announcement that the board would provide guidance to districts sometime today. While the June exams were canceled, there was no word on whether August exams would be canceled and how the June cancellations would impact students and school districts.

Guidelines had not been issued as of presstime today.

• The district has “begun discussing potential options for the rescheduling of traditional high school spring events,” according to the Q&A. “There are no details to share other than the initiation of discussion and thought on the topic.”

Separately, Blake in his video message acknowledged high school seniors who are wondering “what is going to happen” to the rest of their senior year. He also referred to the impacts on student athletes as well as students who perform musically in school groups.

“To all of our students” including seniors, athletes and musical performers, “we are feeling for you, we miss you....We hope to get back to life as normal...sometime before the end of the school year,” Blake said. But he also noted Gov. Andrew Cuomo “really controls our fate and destiny relative to those things,” referring to ongoing decisions that Cuomo has been issuing in “two-week increments” such as extending school closings.

Cuomo said Monday that schools are to remain closed until April 29, extending a previous closure that was to be through April 15.

• The district is temporarily suspending new registrations for kindergarten and pre-K for the 2020-21 year, the Q&A said. Citing “minimal staff” able to work on it plus the need for documentation in-person to complete the process, it said “we are simply going to suspend the process for now and will be providing more information in the coming weeks about how this process will be completed.”

• Regarding Chromebooks, “we are no longer able to honor new...requests,” said the Q&A, noting “a small amount remaining for those that used the online form to pre-register and have yet to pick them up.” For those families, they are available at the district office today through Thursday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

The district so far has distributed about 800 Chromebooks for students’ usage. They are for district families needing access to technology and help in giving their students a means to access the internet from home regarding online schoolwork.

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