Scotia-Glenville Superintendent Susan Swartz has spent months planning for social distancing, remote learning, how to conduct tests and contact trace. But she knows those plans could be upended at any moment.
"I know there will challenges," she said Friday in an interview. "It could be as simple as am I going to have enough drivers to get my students to school. That would be a challenge."
Swartz's biggest worry? That some students will continue to fall behind.
"I had some students who didn't do well in the classroom who thrived virtually and I also had some students who thrived in the classroom, but struggled virtually. So having that equity, making sure every student has a shot, that's what keeps me up at night," she said.
Parents, students and school leaders are facing down a school year that is riding largely on the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic and the details of plans they are now putting in place.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced schools can reopen in the coming weeks, pointing to what has been a stabilized infection rate of about 1 percent out of tens of thousands of daily tests.
"Our school guidance has been touted as the smartest in the country," Cuomo said. "Our economic reopening guidance was touted as the smartest in the country. So if anyone can do it, we can do it."
Cuomo wants schools to discuss the reopening plans with parents in virtual sessions between now and August 21. Those conversations in many cases are ongoing. But the more personal conversations, says the state PTA's Kyle Belokopitsky, will be within families themselves.
"I think we're going to see a mix of things," said PTA President Kyle Belokopitsky. "The most important thing is there's no wrong decision. Every family's decision is the right decision for their family. We have to support each other."
Much of the planning is ultimately in the hands of local school officials who know their buildings and students best. But Bob Schneider of the New York School Boards Association says there's a downside.
"We want specific guidance and coordination and the resources to do what the Department of Health wants us to do," he said.
So much of this will hinge on whether New York's flattened COVID rate will stay that way. If it doesn't, the decision to reopen schools could change.