Students, staff at BMS adopting well to stressful circumstances, principal tells school board
Students and staff have adjusted well to very stressful circumstances, Batavia Middle School Principal Ashley John Grillo told trustees Monday night at the Batavia City Schools board meeting.
Grillo provided the board with a regularly scheduled report about the status of his school concentrating on adjustments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Students are wearing masks, not complaining about guidelines," Grillo said. "They've really done an outstanding job of adapting to the new guidelines for this year. I'm really proud of that. They deserve the biggest round of applause because they're really the ones most affected the most by the whole thing."
Grillo gave his report before two staff members tested positive for COVID-19 requiring 50 students who had close contact into mandatory quarantine for two weeks.
There are 127 students whose parents chose 100-percent virtual learning for this school year, Grillo said.
In the cohorts that are splitting time between virtual learning and attending classes, with 246 in the first cohort and 208 in the second. There are also 78 students who are on campus every day.
Teachers conduct online classes that are dedicated to that role, Grillo said, with none doing both online learning and in-class learning.
"We decided to do that at the middle school level," Grillo said. "We didn't want to overwhelm the kids or overwhelm the teachers."
During the first two weeks of school, the emphasis was on getting students accustomed to being back in school after six months away from the classroom environment and getting them familiar with the new routines.
Homeroom has also been extended. In the past, homeroom has lasted 10 to 15 minutes before the first period. It's been extended to accommodate a video stream into the classrooms for morning announcements. The students get help getting their assignments and schedules organized for the day. They turn in their lunch orders. And there is some theme that primes them for learning. In the first weeks, it was Hispanic culture, then anti-bullying, and now veterans are being highlighted with students and staff providing photos of veterans from their families for the video stream.
"It helps them get their day organized and start on the right foot," Grillo said.
There is a team of teachers dedicated to social and emotional learning who meet regularly to review the school's progress and needs. There are also activities on campus for staff, such as yoga and meditation and team-building activities.
"This is not an easy job and we're trying to find ways to balance that," Grillo said.
There are also regular faculty meetings and training that focuses on professional learning. They're also working on better ways to track student progress and identify students who need extra attention.
"We do that every year," Grillo said, "But we're not letting this year hinder us. We're continuing to improve our process."