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Grades 3-8 return to schools for full-time in-person learning

Mount Vernon City School District students in grades 3 through 8 were welcomed back to the schools for full-time in-person learning on Tuesday, April 6th. Not only did students in the District’s hybrid in-person and remote learning program begin attending school in the buildings every day, but they were also joined by some students who had been learning remotely full-time as well.

The District is encouraging students to return to the classroom, as additional safe measures are in place and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased its social distancing guidelines from 6 feet to 3 feet.

The District is anticipating more students returning to the school buildings over the coming weeks as more full-time remote learners switch to in-person instruction. The District will continue to offer remote learning options for some students for the remainder of this school year.

Next Monday, April 12th, the District’s three high schools will welcome its students in grades 9-11 to school five days a week, meaning all grades in the District will have returned to full-time in-person learning.

On Tuesday, April 6th, Grimes School attendance grew to 146 out of 450 students learning in-person. Columbus School had 140 out of 400. Administrators at both schools were pleased to see the students and are looking forward to more coming soon.

“I understand these are difficult times for our parents and for our community,” said Principal Marc Molina. “But, I want to assure everyone that we are taking every precaution necessary to provide a safe environment for our children to come to school, learn and flourish. And we also want our parents to feel safe sending their children to school.”

In response to concerns from parents about infections, the district has strengthened its efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through the five-pronged strategy for mitigation of the virus as outlined by the CDC, including:

  • Mandatory universal and correct use of masks;
  • Social-distancing;
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette;
  • Cleaning and sanitizing all facilities; and
  • Protective barriers in the classroom.

The district will also continue contact tracing in collaboration with the Westchester County Health Department.

In Columbus School, School Counselor Evelyn Padilla said the school is continuing to follow social distancing guidelines, utilize desk partitions, use different entrances to the school for entry and exit, reduce student travel in the school where possible (ie, have lunch in the classroom), and require COVID screenings before entry each morning.

In many ways, it was a first day of school, teachers Margaret Prendeville and Flavia Garufi said. They had their third-grade students create welcome back posters so their students could get to know each other better.

“We as teachers, we are so happy that the children are back here in person,” Ms. Prendeville said. “It is so different having the students in front of us vs. Zooming.”

“It feels a lot like September – in April,” Ms. Garufi said. “We have children in front of us today who have not been in a school building in over a year, so we are using today as a getting to know you day.”