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Warwick Valley establishes Reopening Task Force and begins planning for fall 2020

on July 1, 2020

The Warwick Valley Central School District wasted no time to begin addressing the myriad questions and challenges that will affect any plans for the opening of the 2020-2021 school year. On the heels of a weekend packed with graduation events, the district assembled a task force and held its first meeting Tuesday night, June 30, for a Google Meet. The Reopening Task Force began the process of figuring out what a return to school might look like in the fall, whether it is on campus, off campus, or a combination of in-person and remote learning.  

“The Reopening Task Force has a crucial charge: Decide how best to maintain the health and safety of our students and community, while upholding our high standards for educational excellence,” said Superintendent Dr. David Leach. “Our goal is to bring the best thinking we can to the process of putting a sound plan in place and then make adjustments to our planning as the context changes – which it inevitably will on multiple occasions.”

It is not known when New York State will provide guidance to school districts, but the group – composed of school staff and community members – has already begun carefully considering factors for a safe reopening in the fall. In addition, there will be complications caused by unknown variables that will require the group to make ongoing, and often unexpected, readjustments.

“School districts are facing a unique combination of public health, educational, and fiscal implications that is creating an unprecedented set of circumstances,” said Dr. Leach.

The task force has gathered a library of resources to inform their planning, including the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current communications from New York State, and statements and publications from neighboring states. Task force members are presently poring over these resources in preparation for its second meeting next week.

“Next week, we will be discussing these resources, sharing our ideas, and developing an early list of viable back-to-school models,” said Dr. Leach. “Once we identify a few potential models, we will take time to consider the potential pros and cons of each and take a consensus vote as to which model we will work from to hone our plan.”

The task force will meet for regular planning sessions throughout the summer. It will monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and related mandates day to day, while soliciting input from experts and community members as needed to identify and implement its plan for the 2020-2021 school year.

Reopening task force members include:

  • Bill Biniaris, Principal, Park Avenue Elementary School
  • Jonathan P. Costa, Assistant Executive Director, EdAdvance – Facilitator
  • Sharon Davis, Board of Education President, Parent
  • Danielle Diglio, WVTA Vice President, Reading Teacher
  • Marguerite Fusco, Principal, Warwick Valley High School
  • Irina Gelman, DPM, MPH, PHDc, Orange County Commissioner of Health, Parent
  • Steven Grundfast, MD, FCCP, Parent
  • Than Harrington, Director Building and Grounds
  • Tim Holmes, Asst. Superintendent Business
  • Dr. Jeffrey Horowitz, School Physician
  • David Leach, Superintendent – Facilitator
  • Cindy Leandro, Asst. Superintendent Human Resources
  • Jacqueline Maher, WVTA President, Elementary School Reading Teacher
  • Meghan McGourty, Director of Elementary Education and Pupil Personnel Services
  • Kevin McGovern, WVTA Vice President, Fifth-grade Teacher
  • Keith Parsons, Board of Education Vice President, Parent
  • John Russo, Retired School Administrator, Athletic Director, Health & Safety Coordinator
  • Charles Vealey, CSEA President
  • James Yap, Assistant Superintendent Secondary Education, Technology and Data

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