The mission of the Averill Park Central School District is to meet the needs of and create opportunities for every student every day. The fundamental premise behind this mission is that every one of our students is a unique individual. Each has different goals, dreams and passions, and the District strives to help each one of these students reach their full potential.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to accomplish this mission, though District officials have worked tirelessly to figure out ways to reach everyone.
For a variety of reasons, including staffing issues, the high school has been operating in a remote model for the majority of the past few months. This has presented unique challenges, but has prompted some innovative responses.
“Our community, students, parents and faculty expressed that a consistent instructional program, even if remote, was more beneficial than continually shifting and changing our models. So, while it made sense for a variety of reasons to remain remote at the high school over these past few weeks, it was also clear that we needed to differentiate how we respond to the varying needs of different students,” High School Principal, Heath Quiles, said. “By bringing targeted groups of students back into our building each day, while remaining remote, we have been able to meet the specific needs of many of our students, including those who engage in highly hands-on programs, while at the same time maintaining a consistent overall instructional program.
“We are quickly seeing, especially in these challenging times, that one size doesn’t fit all. Our different programming over the past few weeks has made a significant difference for many students.”
The District made the decision to bring many of these students back into the building so they could continue hands-on learning and pursue their passions. Coming back to the classroom are students in the half-day CTE programs, including Automotive Technology, Construction Technology and Construction Practicum. Robotics students and those with special needs returned, as well. Some musical performance groups began attending rehearsals in-person. The Athletic Department is offering opportunities consistent with current state and local health and safety guidelines.
“Safety is, and remains, our number one priority. As we have differentiated programs, we have maintained the same safety practice we had in place during our hybrid operations; the only difference being that we now have even smaller numbers of students in the building each day,” Quiles said. “We continue to use appropriate social distancing, the use of masks, and the maintenance of accurate records for potential contact tracing. Our current in-person students are working in small groupings, spread out among large spaces throughout our building.”
Currently, grades K-5 are learning in-person on a daily basis while grades 6-8 are in a hybrid format. Grades 9-12 will return to in-person, hybrid learning on Feb. 8. In the meantime, the students who are most at need of in-person instruction will have a home inside the walls of the Averill Park High School.