Oriskany to offer enrichment program as more students go remote

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ORISKANY — With additional Oriskany Central School students opting to switch to total remote learning, teachers and administrators have adapted quickly to keeping children engaged, district officials reported during the Dec. 1 regular Board of Education meeting.

“For the last three weeks, it’s been like a roller coaster — going to remote (learning) and now back in (hybrid), and the number of students who have opted to go totally remote since Thanksgiving,” has significantly increased, said Junior/Senior High School Principal Jamie Grimshaw. “And our teachers have done a tremendous job adapting to that. Our students are engaged...and should also be applauded, going about this undaunted, (for the majority) tuning in” and doing their work.

There is now an academic enrichment program offered to students from 3-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for those who need extra help and thrive working in a small group setting. That is in addition to the academic intervention/enrichment program offered on Wednesday.

“I had a Zoom meeting with the New York State Mentoring Program which links college students and adults with students,” Grimshaw added.

The mentoring program is something the junior/senior high school hopes to “open its doors” to and work with in the future, and will try to match students with mentors moving forward, he said.

N.A. Walbran Principal Mark J. Ranieri reported that by Nov. 19, 33 more elementary pupils opted to go totally remote, and that number again increased by Nov. 25 to the current total of 67 children going to total remote learning.

“Our current remote learning number is 67 out of a total 304 students — that’s 22 percent of the student body that are totally remote,” said Ranieri. “That’s totally voluntary, besides a few who are in quarantine. There’s been a lot of anxiety in the building with students and staff with trying to cope with the current reality. I know this is not unique to our school or district, but it should be stated where we’re at as a school.”

The principal continued, “I think students and staff are trying their best to make the best of it, but I do think the reality has been trying. I think those numbers tell a story other than anecdotally.”

Meanwhile, Ranieri said he’s enjoyed visiting different classrooms and watching the learning in progress — how teachers have adapted and have become more creative in keeping students engaged.

“Parents should be proud of our teachers. So many things are happening on a daily basis, with teachers balancing in-person and remote instruction. There’s so many good things going on, and I want parents to know that, especially being new in the district,” Ranieri said. “I remain continually impressed with the lessons that I’m seeing. We’re grateful for the parental support we’ve received too — they’ve been very accommodating, doing their best to balance their jobs at home and making sure their child is not only marked for attendance, but is doing their work.”

After the principals’ comments, board members remarked on the “flexibility of the district” and that enough could not be said about teachers, administrators and students’ “resiliency.”

Board members also asked what the district was doing for its staff members to make them feel more comfortable and secure in their learning environment.

Officials said the district has brought on additional cleaners and facility workers so everyone has a “comfort level.” Teachers have been “phenomenal” working with district officials and administrators, and if there’s been any problems, they’ve been reaching out, district officials said. If anyone has a problem or issue, they are asked to continue to reach out to the district and administrators.

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