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‘Objection’ heard on Fredonia hybrid plan

Students in grades six to 12 have returned to Fredonia Middle and High School on a hybrid plan as of Monday. The middle and high schools both have identical plans, which split the students up into two groups — 1 and 2. Group 1 is students with last names that begin with “A” through “K” and group 2 is “L” through “Z”.

According to this hybrid plan, group 1 will be in-person on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week, with group 2 being in-person on Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays will be remote learning for all students. This means that students will only have face-to-face time — whether online or in-person — three days a week. The other two days, while the other students are in-person, students will work on asynchronous activities on their own.

One parent who attended the Board of Education meeting was not happy about this sudden lack of lecture to his child in the high school.

Timothy Cowan, another concerned parent at the Fredonia School District, has three sons who all attend Fredonia, in grades two, six and eight Cowan is also a teacher at the Chautauqua Lake School District. His main point of addressing the board on Tuesday evening was to express his disagreement with the practice of only giving kids three days a week of teacher time.

“I know firsthand the challenges we are all facing to provide for our students during a pandemic,” he said. “A hybrid plan may be the best option (if all students can not fit into the school while following guidelines). I do believe the district could have and should’ve implemented a hybrid plan to start the school year. … Why this option was not available from the beginning of the year is hard to comprehend.”

He explained that he does understand it has been hard on every school district, but most other schools in the region have figured it out by now. Though he did not want to dwell on the past and wanted to look toward the future, where he discussed how he objects to the new hybrid plan.

“I am here this evening to draw attention to and express my strong objection to the implementation of the new hybrid plan adopted by the middle school this week, which calls for a 40% decrease in teacher-student time,” he said. “Since the start of the school year, middle school students have been meeting with their teachers face-to-face via Zoom five days a week. Under the new plan, students will now be with their teachers only three days a week. … Worksheets and activities online are no replacement for time with a teacher.”

Cowan expressed his disdain with the district and explained he has managed to teach his students at Chautauqua Lake in-person, five days a week, while still managing to follow the guidelines. He also said that he livestreams his classes for those who have elected to stay home or are in quarantine.

“I urge, encourage, and empower your teachers to livestream their class, so our students can remain in contact with their teachers everyday,” he said. “There is not a single job in this country that hasn’t had to adjust and redefine itself because of this pandemic. I am more than willing to share my experiences and help to become part of the solution here.”

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