Dansville Central School getting back to normal with return of students

Dansville Schools begin to reopen with changes in place

By Jeff Miller
The Express
This third grade classroom in the Dansville Central School District reopened to students March 15 with special barriers at each desk in place.

DANSVILLE — It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year. When COVID hit, it closed just about everything, and we’ve done our best to adjust. Many things have reopened with limitations and now, school districts are beginning to slowly reopen to full or near full-time status.

“We started to firm up our plans over the winter, and we wanted to bring back the earliest learners first,” Superintendent Dr. Paul Alioto said.

Kindergarteners began attending Feb. 1; first and second graders began March 8; third and fourth graders began March 15; fifth and sixth grades will begin April 5; and grades 7-12 will begin April 19.

Though preschoolers started later than Kindergarteners, much of it had to do with figuring out a way to rearrange the classroom space to accommodate all of the students with social-distancing requirements. Three-year-old pre-kindergarteners began March 22 and four-year-old pre-kindergarteners will begin April 12.

Pre-K through sixth grade will be attending five days a week; whereas 7-12 students will be attending four days a week, with Wednesdays as a cleaning day. If parents are leery of returning their students just yet, the district has a remote-learning option available.

Livingston County Department of Health recommended a phased-in approach to returning students.

“To be honest, the phased-in approach has really helped us to monitor, not just illnesses, but school bus capacity,” Dr. Alioto said.

The band room in Dansville is now spaced out for social distancing as students return to in-person learning.

The district revised school bus runs to keep students as socially distanced as possible.

In addition to classes, end-of-year activities such as sports, Senior Ball and others will be going on as well. Alioto said the district is planning for graduation to return to its traditional date — the first Saturday after regents exams — this year. Last year, it was a month later and held as a drive-in ceremony at Ralph Clements Field. Alioto said he would like to have it outdoors again, not as a drive-in ceremony, but with socially-distanced seating.

Not all school districts are returning students using this same time table. Alioto said each area school district is trying to get students back into classrooms, but space to accommodate the six-foot rule and less-than-six-foot rule with barriers is more limited in some schools that others.

“It’s not ideal,” Alioto said. “But there’s nothing better than having all the students back in person, so we do what we have to do to make that work.”

Alioto said he believes that it is very likely school districts will be opening next year with social distance rules and physical barriers still in place. He also said the district may still have a remote learning option for next year.

During this time, Alioto said the district has also had a very successful Academic Support and Activities Program (ASAP) for students in grades Pre-K through 7, in the upper floors of the Genesee Community College satellite campus. The program helps students who need academic support while parents are working, or if parents have challenges helping them with homework assignments. ASAP employs teacher aides to be available to help students get their work done. Activities such as storytelling, physical fitness and others were also available, as well as meals.