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A return to in-person schooling looks to enhance emotional as well as academic well-being

Greece School Supt. Kathleen Graupman during a Zoom video briefing with reporters on Monday.
Greece Central School District
Greece School Supt. Kathleen Graupman during a Zoom video briefing with reporters on Monday.

The New York State Education Department on Monday distributed a framework to school districts around New York with general guidelinesof what they will need to do if school reopens this fall.

Kathleen Graupman, superintendent of the Greece Central School District and president of the Monroe County Council of School Superintendents, said Monday that one main point the state wants to make is that the mental and emotional health of students, staff and families, is an important part of any reopening process.

“The idea that when we get back to school, really needing to make sure that we don’t necessarily prioritize academics," Graupman said. "While that’s still very, very important, the idea that, as we transition students back, there was clearly the message that we’re going to need to really think about meeting their needs and thinking about what systems of support we have within our schools.”

Graupman said it’s also important for school districts to prioritize their most vulnerable students, including those who are in special education programs or who are in English Language Learning programs. 

Among the challenges local school superintendents are looking at if school resumes in-person this fall, is the availability of bus drivers.

“When I look at our fleet, our group of bus drivers, we also have a group of individuals who have a pretty significant percentage of them that are above 60 years old and many who have underlying health issues," Graupman said.

Another issue is just how many substitute teachers will be available this fall. Graupman said since the pool of potential substitutes is down, and there are also fewer new teachers getting into education.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.