Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Please enjoy this beautiful weekend and take a few minutes to read the following updates:

Remote Only Learners:  The Putnam Valley School District will be sharing a new survey with those families who are currently participating in remote only instruction requesting those families to make a commitment to a learning model (remote or in-person) for the next few months. There will be another opportunity for remote learners to return to in-person instruction this Spring.  While we understand it is extremely difficult to project what will happen with the virus over the next few months, the number of students that may decide to return to in-person instruction will have a profound impact on our current instructional model.  This information is vital to the District in order to design and implement an instructional plan that will work for everyone.  All options will remain on the table. These could include the possibility of splitting classes between additional classrooms or moving classes into larger spaces (gym, auditorium, cafeteria, library, etc).  Our last option would be to transition our Elementary School into a hybrid model, similar to what we have in place at the Middle School and High School.  If at all possible, we will maintain our existing model, but we currently have very little flexibility to accommodate additional in-person learners.

Weather Related School Delays:  As the temperature begins to turn colder, we are reminded that weather related delays could be right around the corner.  In the event that the beginning of the school day is delayed due to inclement weather or other safety concerns, all schools will revert back to their traditional dismissal times: MS/HS-2:40 pm and ES-3:20 pm.  This change will help protect the instructional day in the event that the beginning of the school day is delayed. For any day not impacted by a delay, the dismissal times will remain: MS/HS-1:45 pm and ES-2:30 pm.

Social Gatherings/Parties:  In recent days, the Putnam Valley School District has been notified regarding several large social gatherings that may have involved some of our families and students.  Anytime we receive this type of information it is immediately turned over to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and the Putnam County Department of Health.  Individuals who host or participate in these large gatherings are putting themselves, our schools, and the entire community at risk. If the district knows of specific students who attended any large gatherings that violate COVID guidelines, they could be asked to quarantine.  To ensure the safety of all students and staff, we will continue to share any information regarding these large group gatherings with the Sheriff’s Department for further investigation. As we enter the holiday season, please continue to adhere to the public health information regarding family gatherings and other holiday celebrations.

After School Transportation:  We have been monitoring the use of our evening bus and have determined that the ridership is not high enough to warrant continuation of the service.  As we transition from fall into winter sports, we anticipate even fewer students needing after school transportation.  Friday, November 13, will be the last day we run a 5:30 pm loop bus out of the High School.  We will continue to reevaluate the need throughout the winter season.  We are still awaiting guidance from the New York State Department of Health regarding “high risk” sports like basketball, wrestling, and cheerleading.

Microclusters:  New York State has recently shared information related to microclusters, including what it would take to be identified as a cluster and what actions that would force on a school district.  I have included a link with detailed information below.  In the event that Putnam County or Putnam Valley is designated by New York State as part of a microcluster, the District has serious concerns related to the requirement to test 25% of our students each week in order to remain open.  The District has no capacity or authorization to conduct these tests ourselves.  We have inquired about setting up a partnership with a variety of medical facilities in our region and the cost is prohibitive. Districts in our region who have been identified as part of a cluster area have been forced to move to remote only instruction.  In the event we are identified to be within a cluster zone, unless we receive additional guidance and support from New York State, we will not be able to test 25% of our students each week and would be forced to move to remote learning for all students.

Microcluster information:  https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/MicroCluster_Metrics_10.21.20_FINAL.pdf

Travel Restrictions:  Effective Wednesday, November 4, New York State updated its travel guidance.  Non-essential travel to any state with high levels of positivity for COVID-19 remains discouraged.  If travel is necessary, new guidelines require a COVID test three days before departing a location and returning back to New York State, followed by three days of quarantine in New York, and then a negative test taken on day four after arriving back in New York.  Individuals who do not provide negative test results must remain in quarantine for the required full 14 days.

Additional information on these travel restrictions can be found here:

https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/11/interm_guidance_travel_advisory.pdf

Thank you for your continued partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools