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Superintendent's Update Regarding Re-Opening Schools (8/16/21)

Dear Families and Colleagues,

I hope you have enjoyed a wonderful summer. It is hard to believe that we are just weeks away from safely bringing students and staff back to school full-time. This update is in regards to the full re-opening of schools this fall. I will continue to send regular updates through the opening of school.

As to not overwhelm you with information, I am pleased to share the top ten essential pieces of information relative to the start of the school year:

  • Schools will be open five days a week for in-person instruction at both the elementary and secondary levels (we are no longer running a hybrid or remote program)

  • We will begin the school year with mandatory masking indoors for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, and continue to review local data and seek guidance from local and state health officials to determine when it is appropriate for masks to be considered optional

  • Masking will be optional (student and staff choice) for all outdoor activities

  • Students will receive mask breaks throughout the day

  • Students must wear masks on buses, and buses will be at capacity

  • Students will be seated three feet apart in classroom spaces, to the extent possible

  • Lunches will be held primarily in the cafeterias/commons areas (more to come on this process)

  • Elementary and secondary programs will include the full complement of art, music and PE instruction, a restoration of all support and enrichment services, and elementary children will be able to play unmasked outdoors with students from other classes during recess

  • Extracurricular clubs, athletics and the arts will be fully implemented

  • Orientations will occur in-person this summer and fall as indicated on the district calendar

Our goal is to bring students and staff back safely. Disinfecting protocols, ventilation, and reinforcement of good hygiene practices will continue. Beginning August 24, students and staff will not need to complete the daily morning health screenings through Qualtrics; however, we will rely on you to check for symptoms and not attend or send your child to school if symptoms are present. I will be sending an additional update regarding these expectations.

Good news: Opening day for students starts later than typical – Thursday, September 9. I am hopeful that we will see infection rates drop significantly by then. With the exception of masking, our goal is to provide students with similar opportunities and experiences as they had during pre-COVID times.

Our re-opening plan takes into consideration the CDC Guidelines, New York State Education Department Guidelines and recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is unclear at this point if or when the New York State Department of Health may also provide guidance or mandates. We are prepared to process all guidance and remain flexible to any changes in practices throughout the course of the year.

We are excited to welcome everyone back and look forward to a successful school year. Please look for my regular updates on re-opening and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Sincerely,

Michael Pero
Superintendent of Schools