At a time when uncertainty remains a way of life during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, students throughout Palmyra- Macedon have found one constant, a caring group of roughly 400 Pal-Mac staff members working in unison to ensure they have the best educational experience possible.
Prior to March 2020, one would have not considered how rare attending school full time in-person would become or how the idea of attending school remotely full-time would become commonplace. However, when the pandemic hit, those previously unthinkable ideas quickly became reality.
As the 2019-20 school year ended and the days shifted to summer following a spring of emergency remote learning, no one knew what to expect for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. It was unclear whether or not students would be allowed to attend school in-person with safety measures in place. However, despite the unknowns, Pal-Mac explored innovative solutions for students.
In June of 2020 using the results of a large- scale Thoughtexchange (a survey tool), the Pal-Mac Leadership Team began to piece together what would need to happen if and when students were able to return to the classroom. In the coming weeks, teams of staff members created action plans and prepared to educate students.
During the second half of July, surveys were conducted about how the district should move forward. Based on parent feedback, the data overwhelmingly exhibited a strong desire from Pal-Mac families to have their students back in the classroom if it could be done in a safe manner.
“Based on our various surveys and ongoing collaboration among staff members, we knew the best plan for our community was to provide two education options for students, full-time in-person instruction and full-time remote instruction,” said Superintendent Bob Ike.
The diligent work throughout the summer, including the creation of an intensive reopening plan totaling almost 70 pages came together in early August when New York State gave the green light for in-person instruction.
“It is difficult to not be a bit cliche in talking about what it took to get our children back to school five days a week, but it was an all-hands-in process,” said Brian Brooks, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Student Learning.
Throughout the school year, roughly 85% of students have been in-person while the rest attend remotely.
The school year has been like no other, but under the current conditions, Pal-Mac students and staff have persevered. As the COVID-19 vaccination rate continues to grow, the district hopes to continue to expand student activities and make the end of the year a special time, especially for the Pal-Mac Class of 2021.
“We have learned a lot about ourselves as individuals, professionals, an organization, and as a community. We know our work is not done and educating our students will continue to be adjusted and developed as we continue to problem solve the current and future impacts the pandemic has had on student learning and well-being,” added Brooks.