WVCSD to resume in-person instruction for K-8; High School to remain on remote instruction only

NEWS

WVCSD to resume in-person instruction for K-8; High School to remain on remote instruction only

December 14, 2020

Dear Warwick Valley School Community,

The District will reopen schools to in-person/hybrid learning for kindergarten through eighth-grade beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 15th. Students assigned to Cohort A will begin in-person learning on Tuesday, December 15th and Cohort B will begin in-person learning on Wednesday, December 16th. High school students will remain on remote instruction.

During these times, we all need to keep in mind that infection rates continue to rise and plans may change based on new COVID-19 information or data. Also, as we enter the winter season, full school closures, including the suspension of remote learning, remain likely for days when inclement weather poses significant safety issues or threatens to affect power and internet connectivity in the area. When such a closure occurs, the district will follow the published Cohort A and B in-person calendar and consider adjustments to the schedule later in the school year if such closures create an imbalance of in-person days for Cohorts A and B.

Concerning inquiries about student attendance from Tuesday, December 15th through Tuesday, December 22nd, the plan is as follows:

Kindergarten – Second Grade: In-person daily instruction resumes for all students on Tuesday, December 15th. Students who receive daily in-person instruction, and elect to not attend for all or part of these six days, will be provided additional information via Google Classroom regarding any assignments/lessons they can complete while at home.

Third and Fourth Grade: In-person/hybrid instruction will resume for students on Tuesday, December 15th. Students who receive in-person instruction, and elect to not attend for all or part of these days, may access remote learning daily. This approach would resemble the at-home, hybrid day schedule that students followed before the pause of in-person instruction, except the hybrid teacher will deliver remote instruction daily for these students rather than every other day.

Fifth and Sixth Grade: In-person/hybrid instruction will resume for students on Tuesday, December 15th. Students who receive in-person instruction, and elect to not attend for all or part of these six days, may access remote learning daily. This approach would resemble the at-home, hybrid day schedule that students followed before the pause of in-person instruction.

Seventh – Eighth Grade: In-person/hybrid instruction will resume for students on Tuesday, December 15th. Students who receive in-person instruction may elect to access remote learning daily.

High School: The high school will remain on remote instruction. Since December 1st, an additional nine high school students have tested positive for COVID-19. As we experienced in early November, each positive case results in many students and staff directed to quarantine by the Orange County Department of Health (1 infected student = 30 – 60 students and staff required to quarantine depending on the student’s schedule, school bus, etc.). Thus far, 306 high school students and 30 high school staff members have been directed to quarantine by the OCDOH. We intend to reopen the high school for in-person instruction after the holiday pause is completed in January.

All students participating in the Distance Learning Academy will continue to follow their typical school schedules.

Please contact your building principal with any questions.

Extending remote learning: If you plan to have your child continue remote learning until winter recess, please email your child’s school attendance office as soon as possible:

Sanfordville Elementary School: sesattendance@wvcsd.org

Park Avenue Elementary School: pesattendance@wvcsd.org

Warwick Valley Middle School: attendancewvms@wvcsd.org

Understanding New York’s Micro-Cluster Initiative: The District continues to receive direction from the Governor’s office about the steps schools must follow to maintain in-person instruction during this pandemic. With this in mind, allow us to share with you about New York’s Micro-Cluster Initiative. Micro-clusters, small zones with intense COVID positivity rates, have been defined as high problem areas in our state as part of New York’s Micro-Cluster Initiative. The state intends to localize these areas and implement particular strategies to reduce the virus’s spread.

New York State officials determine COVID micro-clusters based on the prevalence of infections and labeling them with colors – a cluster itself is red, a warning zone is orange, and a precautionary zone is yellow. Each zone designation comes with various restrictions for gatherings, houses of worship, businesses, restaurants, and schools. These color designations should NOT be confused with the Orange County New York COVID-19 dashboard. The Town of Warwick (population of about 33,500) presents in dark red on the Orange County dashboard. The map’s legend uses this color to denote when a town, regardless of the total population, exceeds 200 active cases. Warwick is reporting over 225 active cases.

At this time, we are NOT in one of the micro-cluster zones as defined by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), but the District is proactively preparing for this occurrence. When our data meets the definition of a designated zone, we will follow state guidelines, which were updated on December 4, requiring that we test a specified percentage of all in-person students, faculty, and staff for COVID-19. A yellow or orange zone designation requires a testing requirement of 20% and a red zone requires 30%. This guidance relaxes the need to close the schools and switch to remote-only instruction while all students get tested, provided that the specified testing and other protocols are followed.

Suppose the Town of Warwick does become a micro-cluster zone. In that case, the option to stay open for in-person learning will likely depend on obtaining enough voluntary consent from students to test and how our school community’s test results compare to the overall population. Districts in the surrounding area are currently navigating these uncharted waters, some even returning to in-person instruction now that the testing is completed.

We are waiting for finalized details about the testing and consent process from local health officials and will share that information with you when it becomes relevant. In the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH) and the NYSDOH.

Updated OCDOH guidance: Moreover, the district received updated guidance from Dr. Irina Gelman, Commissioner of the OCDOH, which reiterated the importance of a holiday pause after the New Year. Therefore, as communicated to you on November 19th, the district plans to resume in-person instruction following the winter recess on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

Letter from Dr. Irina Gelman, Orange County Commissioner of Health

Please keep in mind that these plans are subject to change due to guidance from the OCDOH, state, and local authorities, or as a result of any other COVID-related challenges.

Thank you again for the continued trust you give us in the education of your children.

Wishing you all peace and joy this Holiday Season.

Sincerely,

John Russo
Principal, Pine Island ES

Johnna Maraia
Principal, Sanfordville ES

Bill Biniaris
Principal, Park Ave ES

Georgianna Diopoulos
Principal, WV Middle School

Marguerite Fusco
Principal, WV High School

David Leach
Superintendent of Schools

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