SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – The Lakeland Central School District, citing a staff shortage, was expected to remain in a fully remote learning model until mid-October. However, the district announced last week that it will resume its hybrid model of in-person and remote learning on Thursday, Sept. 24.
“Some have asked whether the staffing concerns just went away or are fixed now,” said Dr. Brendan Lyons, superintendent of Lakeland Schools, at the school board meeting on Thursday, Sept. 17.
The issues have been revolved but the situation is a fluid one, Lyons said, as conditions change inside and outside the school community, such as the spread of COVID-19 and decisions made by other districts.
“My point is: This will be an ongoing process of adapting to changing situations,” the superintendent said.
Lakeland’s teaching and support staff continue to request leaves, said Tammy Cosgrove, assistant superintendent for human resources. As of Sept. 17, there were 26 granted medical leaves of absences and 35 requests for childcare leave, including four being requested just that day.
Lyons praised the work of the human resources department and his building principals, “who have been working through the various medical and childcare leave situations, so that our buildings and classrooms are appropriately staffed.”
To reduce capacity, the hybrid model splits Lakeland’s student body into two rotating cohorts. When one is in school, the other is at home learning remotely. In a change, remote students will now have virtual access to their classroom when they are home.
“In other words, if it is an A day, B cohort students will be able to attend their class virtually and have access to their teacher and the lesson for the day,” Lyons said.
“Although the transition to the hybrid model will be challenging,” Lyons added, “I am confident that our teachers are up to the challenge as they navigate this very new and different instructional model.”
Resuming in-person learning allowed the district to bring back 40 bus drivers, 30 food service helpers, and 59 hourly school monitors who had been furloughed.
Parents wishing to move their child from remote learning to the hybrid model, or vice versa, must submit requests to their building principal, Lyons said.