When the Governor announced, quite expectantly, that schools serving children with IEPs could open for the summer and provide face to face instruction, we were all taken by surprise. That said, it had been a day we had hoped would come, so we could provide direct services that so many of our children and their families were in such need of receiving. We had begun the process of developing our re-opening plans weeks before the Governor made his announcement so we would be ready with boots on the ground as soon as we could. The program directors participated in many trainings and work groups to begin the monumental task of re-opening safely in the absence of any formal guidance from the NY State Education Department. They spent time working with facilities to modify the buildings by creating work spaces in the classes that would allow social distancing. Markings were put down on the floors to help the students navigate the environment differently, in this new world we are in right now. New materials had to be developed so that each child would have their own individual set of materials. Protocols for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), handwashing, social distancing, identifying symptoms, disinfecting, and so on had to be developed and staff needed to be trained in all of these protocols.
Our program directors and their staff once again rose to the occasion. Our schools officially re-opened this week. After surveying our families to determine who was ready for direct instruction, we then broke that group into two groups. The first group is receiving face to face instruction for the first three weeks while the other group receives virtual instruction. These groups will be switched for the second 3-week session. While it has only been a couple of days, things have gone quite well. The smiles on the faces of both our students and their instructors was worth all of the hard work to get this going.
We were only given the go ahead to open our preschool a couple of days ago, so we are in the process of making preparations. We are carefully monitoring the infection rate numbers in NY as they are the most critical variable in safe school re-opening. We continue to be below 2% and certainly hope we stay there, or go even lower.
We are seeing how things go now and believe that this will help us determine the best strategy for opening up more come September. We have not determined yet what the best model will be, but will be working closely with all of our families and the program leadership, while at the same time, keeping up with the important data indicators and ever-changing guidelines for safely managing COVID-19.
In addition to our educational programs, we also received guidance documents about re-opening of our adult day programs. We are working through these and hope to be able to bring our adults back to program as soon as we can.
We hope you have a safe and healthy summer and look forward to a productive summer school for the students at Eden II and Genesis Programs.