While we spent our summer dipping our toes in the cool water of the pool, enjoying sweet ice cream and relaxing in the shade with a good book, it was busy season for the maintenance staff at Briarcliff School District.
In just a few short weeks, students at Briarcliff School District will be back in school and unlike last year, there will be no remote students, no cohorts and no separation of classes – everyone will be together in the classroom, lunches will be in the cafeteria and there will be a return to normalcy in many ways. Many students will notice that classrooms and other facilities – both indoor and outdoor – have been re-done.
Throughout the summer, the District has been gearing up for the first day of school and many rooms, offices and hallways have been painted and re-arranged, with a focus on strictly adhering to safety guidelines. At Todd Elementary School, many classrooms are ready to go, with books neatly organized and tables spaced out.
“We take everything apart and do a deep clean in the classrooms,” said Director of Facilities George Hula. “Every single space gets everything taken out and cleaned before it goes back in. We painted a lot, especially in the middle school, because some rooms have not been painted in 20 years,” he added.
Another big change for the middle school is the gym, which has been completely renovated.
“The floor was sanded down and the gym has new painted lines, new logos and new wall mats,” Mr. Hula said. “We spray-painted the walls and even painted the ceiling white, plus we put in new doors.”
According to Mr. Hula, there was a lot of work to be done in all three schools.
“We brought back furniture that was in storage, we repainted parking lot lines and re-did the athletic fields,” he said.
As part of the $2.98 million bond, the District purchased three new generators for the middle and high schools, as those did not have power backup.
“The company will come to turn them on in mid-September,” Mr. Hula said.
At Briarcliff High School, former Assistant Principal Diana Blank has taken the reins as Principal, while Daniel Goldberg remains Assistant Principal. Their offices were freshly painted and their furniture re-arranged.
“I am very happy to have all of our students in the building this fall,” Mr. Goldberg said. “I think students will enjoy being together and socializing, safely, of course. I think the teachers are excited to have everyone together and to connect with the students.”
Mr. Goldberg is looking forward to the annual barbeque, which will take place on September 10 in the afternoon.
“We did not have it last year so I only got to experience it once since working in the district. It should be a lot of fun, with great food and games for all the students,” he said.
Superintendent Dr. James Kaishian echoes Mr. Goldberg’s sentiment and is also looking forward to the start of the new school year.
“I am really excited about opening schools in September,” Dr. Kaishian said. “The district’s staff and the leadership team has done a lot of hard work to prepare. It has not been easy due to the shifting nature of the pandemic, however, we have successfully navigated a similar situation before, so this is not new to us. We are excited about applying what we learned and approaching the new school year with a better balance of the health, academic and emotional needs of our students. I think we have a great plan,” he added.
Dr. Kaishian credits last year’s success to the cooperation of many people.
“The district, the parents and the community all came together and we all had the best intention in mind,” he said. “When we started the school year last year we learned we may have been a bit more restrictive, but when you are dealing with children, you need to err on the side of caution. We learned that layered mitigation does work and the CDC guidelines are somewhat more relaxed now.”
Dr. Kaishian is looking forward to tonight’s Town Hall meeting, in which he will discuss mitigation strategies at the District.
“I am very excited about the energy that the students bring. Seeing the athletes on school grounds this week is very exciting and I am looking forward to seeing everyone in September,” he said.