Amherst Public Schools Student Services Administrator JoAnn Smith presented the fall plans for the District’s preschool, which is located in Crocker Farm Elementary School, to the Amherst School Committee on August 6. (See slides 3-6 in the 8/6 meeting packet.)
In-person instruction will be limited to children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Smith said she expects four to seven children in each of the five preschool classrooms for four mornings per week for a maximum of 35 children, although she said they are not anticipating having all 35 attend.
Remote learning opportunities will be offered in the afternoon for those with complex needs, or for those whose families choose not to participate in-person.
Children without IEPs, known as “general education peers,” will not be offered in-person instruction. Smith said preschool staff will seek opportunities for general education peers to participate remotely, for example for morning meeting or storytime.
Smith said the District is looking to purchase iPads for the students with IEPs and will provide training to families on the use of technology platforms to engage students during remote learning.
Committee Chair Allison McDonald asked what the sixth room assigned to the preschool would be used for when there will be only five classrooms of children. Smith responded that some related service providers that typically work in offices without windows may use the sixth classroom for themselves.
The allocation of more than five rooms to preschool was questioned last month as it resulted in fifth and sixth grade classes being moved to the Amherst Regional Middle School.
According to a draft calendar included in the meeting packet, preschool orientation will take place on September 16-17, with the first day on September 18. Smith said they will phase in smaller groups of students with IEPs to in-person in the first week or two to support the transition. New students and those with complex needs will be prioritized.