COVID UPDATE 11.19.2020

NEWS

COVID UPDATE 11.19.2020

November 19, 2020

Dear Warwick Valley School Community,

In my communications this school year, I have stressed the need for everyone to remain flexible as we strive to provide our students with the safest and most enriching in-person learning environment possible during this pandemic. Today, unfortunately, we need to make an adjustment to our upcoming schedule.  

Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH) Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman offered new guidance, based on the latest public health data, strongly recommending that all public schools in the county suspend in-person instruction for a minimum of two weeks immediately following each of the upcoming holiday recess periods. Dr. Gelman explains:

“The current surge in cases in the aftermath of the Halloween parties and social gatherings, is a preliminary indicator of the tidal wave of cases expected after the Thanksgiving and Winter Holiday breaks. It is reasonable to deduce that families, faculty and school administrators would rather take a proactive, well-coordinated approach now to implement a phased in conversion to remote learning throughout the duration of the holiday season that fits the scope, resources, capabilities of your school district rather than continue the sporadic, unanticipated last minute closure and reopening of schools that does not allow school administrators, instructors, staff and families to plan ahead for such developments.”

To read Dr. Gelman’s letter click here

Considering this guidance, the Warwick Valley Central School District will shift to fully remote instruction for all students during the two weeks immediately following both the Thanksgiving and Winter Recess periods. We have been preparing for this eventuality and I am confident in our readiness to transition smoothly to remote learning. This was a difficult decision, but one that will help slow the alarming upward trend in COVID-19 infections that the OCDOH has been reporting, and which the agency anticipates will continue to rise. 

Given the current infection rate, I believe that in-person instruction is safe, because of the multi-layered prevention strategies we have in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. In-person instruction is undoubtedly the most effective approach for most students. However, as the infection rate rises, the health risks certainly increase and the potential for disruptions to in-person learning grows. Frequent building closures at a moment’s notice to adhere to safety and quarantining guidelines are disruptive. The requirement to quarantine staff for up to 14 days makes this model unsustainable.

The instructional model schedule for the coming weeks: 

Schools Closed for Thanksgiving Recess

  • Wednesday, November 25, 2020 – Friday, November 27, 2020

After Thanksgiving Recess

  • Remote instruction only: Monday, November 30, 2020 – Friday, December 11, 2020
  • In-person learning resumes: Monday, December 14, 2020 – Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Schools Closed for Winter Recess

  • Wednesday, December 23, 2020 – Friday, January 1, 2021

After Winter Recess

  • Remote instruction only: Monday, January 4, 2021 – Friday, January 15, 2021
  • School Closed for Dr. M.L. King Day: January 18, 2021
  • In-person learning resumes: Tuesday, January 19, 2021 

Students should be prepared to take all necessary learning materials home with them on their final days of in-person classes before each closure period. Please anticipate more information about your child’s remote learning schedule to be sent home next week. 

Tech Help: If students require technology support following a move from in-person to remote instruction, they can log a request via the IT team’s online Help Desk by emailing helpdesk@wvcsd.org . Students may also watch custom how-to videos about accessing and utilizing Chromebooks, the Google Suite and other District-approved tools here: www.warwickvalleyschools.com/tutorials.

We understand that suspending in-person instruction is likely to present hardships for many of our students and families. Our commitment to the health of our students, staff and the entire community, however, dictates that we follow the lead of our trusted medical professionals who are sharing their expertise and advice.

Finally, I would be remiss not to remind everyone that even while taking this carefully considered step, the circumstances around the pandemic continue to evolve daily.  We must all be prepared to rethink and adapt if health care officials or Governor Cuomo’s office call for further changes to the new guidelines. Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility and, most of all, your support in doing what is best for our students during this pandemic.   

We are very grateful for your support, understanding, and cooperation as we work together during these very challenging times.  

Sincerely,

David Leach
Superintendent of Schools

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