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Update from Dr. Luft – ES/HS Return-MS Remote

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Good morning, I hope that everyone had a restful Thanksgiving break, and I appreciate everyone’s flexibility as we were unexpectedly forced back into remote only instruction.

At this time, our Elementary School and High School are ready to welcome students back into their classrooms on Thursday, December 3. Unfortunately, our Middle School is struggling through staffing issues associated with recent quarantine orders. To assure the health and safety of our Middle School students, our Middle School will remain in remote only instruction until Wednesday, December 9.

I understand that stress and anxiety during this time are very high. I am sensitive to the fact that everyone is grappling with their own personal matters. These decisions are always made after careful consideration and collaboration with our regional public health officials. These decisions are based on “how we can most effectively and safely educate our students.”

Considering what we know: Schools remain one of the safest places for our students, and I firmly believe there is no substitute for the instruction our staff provides on a daily basis. Additionally, Governor Cuomo has made it clear that he wants schools to remain open for as long as it is safe to do so. To date, our school district has had zero cases of the virus spreading within our schools.  This is a result of continued efforts to ensure that the health and safety protocols are followed for which I am very grateful. I am beyond proud of the educational opportunities we are safely providing for the students of Putnam Valley.

I will continue to be a strong advocate for our students and staff while working alongside our local Department of Health to demand answers from NYS regarding:

  • Why New York State has not identified a single town in Putnam County as a “microcluster,” despite the high rates of positivity.
  • Our localized positivity rate to know how Putnam Valley compares to the County rate.
  • Access to testing kits, which are currently not available to districts outside of identified “microclusters.”

These are complex issues, but I am confident that we can get through them together and in the best interest of the children of Putnam Valley.

Thank you,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

PV Schools Remote Only Monday 11/30 – Wednesday 12/2

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

We were notified late this afternoon that our contracted transportation company, Orange County Transit, is unable to provide transportation services after learning that several of its employees are being mandated to quarantine. Most of these exposures are not related to any positive cases in Putnam Valley.  Additionally, a number of our own staff members have been placed on quarantine which has created an internal staffing issue as we attempt to fill those vacancies.

Therefore, at this time we are forced to shift to all remote instruction in all of our schools, grades kindergarten through twelve, effective Monday, November 30, through Wednesday, December 2. While this is not an easy decision, we believe moving to all remote instruction is our only option at this time. We recognize remote instruction poses challenges to our students and their families, and we are committed to reopening our buildings as soon as possible and keeping the health and safety of our entire school community as our utmost priority.  We will continue to work with Orange County Transit to fill the vacancies created by their staff members who are on quarantine while providing time to ensure any substitute drivers learn their routes and are accustomed to the safety protocols we have in place.

Out of District transportation will continue to be provided for those students who attend out of district placements.

We again apologize for the inconvenience this places on all of our families; it is simply not prudent or safe to open our schools at this time. We remain committed to providing in-person instruction whenever we can safely do so.  We hope these issues are quickly resolved and we can return to our typical schedule later this week.

Thank you,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

Msg. from Dr. Luft – COVID Notification 11-25-20

Dear Putnam Valley School Community,

This afternoon, the District was notified that an individual at Putnam Valley Middle School has tested positive for COVID-19.  As required by law, we must maintain this person’s confidentiality, which prevents us from further identifying the individual.

We are working collaboratively with the Putnam County Department of Health to identify any students or staff members who may have been exposed.  Students who are determined to be potential contacts of the positive individual will be contacted via email, staff members who are identified as contacts will be contacted directly by an administrator.

Any exposed individuals must quarantine for 14 days and are encouraged to get tested five days after their last exposure. A negative test is not required to return to school at the conclusion of the quarantine period. Additionally, a negative test does not reduce the 14 day quarantine period.  In accordance with guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, the school has been cleaned and disinfected in the areas where COVID positive individual was present.  More information on precautionary quarantine can be found here.

The New York State Department of Health has a contact tracing system in place for when there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. If you are identified as a contact of the person who tested positive, you should receive a call from a contact tracer. For such calls, your caller ID may read NYS Contact Tracing or display a phone number with a 518 area code. Please answer these calls promptly and provide the Contact Tracers with the information they need to protect our school community and families.

As a reminder, if you believe at any point you may have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should self-quarantine and speak to your healthcare provider.  If you suspect you or a family member is becoming ill, stay home and consult with a physician.  Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue, new onset of loss of taste and/or smell, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

Visit the NY State Find a Test Site Near You page and enter your address to view a list of the nearest testing sites. For more information on COVID-19, please call (866) 588-0195 or visit the Putnam County Department of Health at Putnam County Department of Health website.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.  We remain committed to the health and safety of all our students and staff.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft

Superintendent of Schools

Thanksgiving Message from Dr. Luft

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

I really wish that this message was not marred by the fact that we had another positive case at the Elementary School that resulted in an early dismissal, but I guess that speaks to the struggle that we are enduring each day. I am hopeful today’s events will not take away from the message of positivity and appreciation that is linked below.

It is hard to believe it was twelve weeks ago when we returned to school for in-person instruction. While the journey had some bumps in the road and has left many overwhelmed and exhausted, the fact that we were able to successfully complete this journey together deserves acknowledgment and celebration. Nobody knows what the future may hold but one thing is certain, the time we have been able to keep our school opened is irreplaceable for our students, staff, and parents. Despite all of the challenges, our teachers overcame obstacles to ensure that learning continued for all, students tuned out the outside world and engaged in both in-person and remote learning, and parents found a way to balance their personal and professional needs to support their child’s education. It has not been an easy twelve weeks for anyone, but it has certainly been a productive twelve weeks for all.

Giving Thanks:  As we approach Thanksgiving, it is inevitable that we all take some time to reflect on that for which we are most thankful. While everyone, including myself, is thankful for the most important things in life like family and health, there is much to be thankful for in Putnam Valley as well. I am thankful to work alongside the most dedicated professionals I have had the privilege to know. I am thankful for our teachers who have completed countless hours of planning and preparation to simultaneously support in-person and remote learners; for refusing to give up or accept the notion that the students in their class this year will have a lesser experience than years past. I am thankful for our custodial, technology, and food services staff that continue to provide essential services every day to keep our buildings open, our instruction continuing, and our students nourished. I am thankful for all of our support staff in our offices and classrooms for taking on a multitude of new responsibilities without losing any old ones and for being the first to volunteer to do whatever is needed to support our students and staff.  Finally, I am thankful for my administrative colleagues for their tireless work to not only keep schools safe and open but for supporting our students and staff to make sure that the learning continued. I am thankful to be part of such an amazing school district and to be serving a town that has done so much for me and my family over the years.

Calendar Change:  Although we are just approaching the Thanksgiving break, I want to make everyone aware of a calendar change before the holiday break in December. After speaking with the Board of Education, we have decided to switch December 21, 22, & 23 to remote only instructional days. While we recognize this will place an additional burden on families, it will also provide all students and staff with a full two-week period of time without the risk of additional exposure or contact tracing. Instruction will continue during those days as normally scheduled only in a remote fashion.

Travel Restrictions and Gatherings:  As a reminder, NYSED has released new guidelines related to travel outside of those states that are contiguous to New York State, details can be found here: NYS Travel Restrictions. Please continue to be diligent in following the guidelines provided by our public health officials during the Thanksgiving break. Our actions over this long weekend will have a profound impact on our ability to keep our schools open for the next month.

Looking Ahead:  While there remains uncertainty regarding our short and long-term outlook, we are again requesting that everyone be prepared for potential shifts between in-person and remote instruction. We are monitoring the potential of being identified by the New York State Department of Health as a microcluster. More information on this designation can be found here:  NYS Microcluster Information. We are continuing to make progress on establishing the ability to test students and staff in school in the event we are identified by NYS as a Yellow Zone. However, more work needs to be done including receiving consent from each family prior to commencing any testing program.

I am hopeful that everyone will find some time to rest and rejuvenate over the Thanksgiving break. We know that many traditions may be altered this year, but I hope that everyone still finds a way to safely enjoy the break and finds time to reflect on all that we are thankful for, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Thank you.

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

Weekly Update-11/20/20- Schools Open Monday

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Thank you for your flexibility in quickly transitioning to remote only instruction over the past few days. I know that this causes considerable challenges for families.  Our school community should feel very proud of their efforts and accomplishments over the last several weeks.

Looking forward, there continues to be a great deal of uncertainty related to both our short and long-term instructional plans.  As of now, we plan to reopen our schools in person on Monday and Tuesday of next week.  However, we continue to monitor our daily rates as we await New York State’s decision if they will identify Putnam County or Putnam Valley as a cluster zone.  There is also the potential of new positive cases this weekend which could also impact our anticipated return to in-person learning on Monday.

We are requesting Middle School and High School L-Z cohorts to attend in-person on Monday, November 23.  This will allow for a more balanced week leading up to the Thanksgiving break. Please check for more detailed information from each building. Middle School and High School A-K cohorts will attend in-person on Tuesday, November 24 as scheduled. These days will follow the typical cohort schedules.

I will continue to keep you informed of any necessary changes to our instructional model.

Take care and stay well and enjoy the weekend!

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

Update: All PV Schools Remote Only-Tomorrow, Friday 11/20/20

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

As we were finalizing our contact tracing associated with yesterday’s positive case in the transportation department, we were notified that two high school students have tested positive and another member of the transportation department is pending test results. As a result of these new cases, all schools will remain in remote only status tomorrow, Friday, November 20.

We are working collaboratively with the Putnam County Department of Health to identify anyone who may be identified as a contact of a positive individual. Individuals who are identified by the Department of Health as a contact of the positive case, must quarantine for 14 days and are encouraged to get tested five days after their last exposure. A negative test does not release an individual from the 14 day timeline.

If your child is identified as a contact of the person who tested positive, you will receive a call from a New York State contact tracer. For such calls, your caller ID may read NYS Contact Tracing or display a phone number with a 518 area code. Please answer these calls promptly and provide the contact tracers with the information they need to protect our school community and families.

As a reminder, if you believe at any point you may have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should self-quarantine and speak to your healthcare provider.  If you suspect your child is becoming ill, that child should stay home and you should consult with your physician.  Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue, new onset of loss of taste and/or smell, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

Visit the NY State Find a Test Site Near You page and enter your address to view a list of the nearest testing sites. For more information on COVID-19, please call (866) 588-0195 or visit the Putnam County Department of Health at Putnam County Department of Health website.

Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft

Superintendent of Schools

PV Schools REMOTE ONLY Tomorrow, Thursday 11/19/20

Dear Putnam Valley School Community,

We were notified this evening that an employee of the school district’s contracted bus company has tested positive for the COVID virus. After speaking with the Department of Health, we have determined that all schools must operate in remote only status tomorrow, Thursday, November 19, to provide the district time to identify any potential contacts of the positive individual.  An update will be provided tomorrow morning regarding contact tracing and if any additional additional remote only days will be necessary.   

Out of district transportation, with the exception of the PNW BOCES CTE Program will operate as normal.

We continue to work collaboratively with the Putnam and Westchester County Departments of Health.  As required by law, we must maintain confidentiality, which prevents us from further identifying individuals.

As a reminder, if you believe at any point you may have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should self-quarantine and speak to your healthcare provider.  If you suspect your child is becoming ill, that child should stay home and you should consult with your physician.  Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue, new onset of loss of taste and/or smell, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.

Visit the NY State Find a Test Site Near You page and enter your address to view a list of the nearest testing sites. For more information on COVID-19, please call (866) 588-0195 or visit the Putnam County Department of Health at Putnam County Department of Health website.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft

Superintendent of Schools

Msg. from Dr. Luft-Elementary School Campus – Today

Good afternoon,

This afternoon, an ambulance was called to our Elementary School campus for a medical concern. This was precautionary and non-COVID related.

Thank you,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

/ / Superintendent's Messages

Msg. from Dr. Luft – Microcluster information/Putnam County

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

I am so proud of what the students, staff, and families have been able to accomplish these last several weeks. Our students are resilient, our staff is dedicated and I am grateful for the “normal” moments we are sharing as an educational community.  If you can find the time, I would encourage you to watch last Thursday’s Board of Education meeting to learn how our clinical staff has been working to meet the needs of our students and assist our staff. (https://youtu.be/0lbb0C2oBRY?t=391)

As virus cases rise across the country and here in Putnam County, we continue to stay in close contact with the Department of Health and monitor the positivity rates in our area and the potential for being identified by NYS as a microcluster.

Microcluster Designation:  Putnam County reached the threshold to be identified as a “Yellow Zone” on Tuesday, November 10; if the county stays above that threshold for 10 consecutive days, it would then be identified by New York State.   Putnam County also passed the threshold to be identified as an “Orange Zone” on Friday, November 13, if the county stays above that threshold for 10 consecutive days, it would receive that designation.  Please see the graphic below for more information on the zone designations.

Link to COVID Positivity Dashboard:  https://forward.ny.gov/percentage-positive-results-county-dashboard

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

Microcluster Information

COVID Testing:  The Putnam Valley School District continues to explore all available options to conduct the required testing outlined with the Yellow Zone designation.  We have been working closely with the Putnam County Department of Health and the New York State Department of Health and have recently made some progress in this area, although many questions still remain. If testing were to become a viable option, there would certainly be a delay between receiving the designation and being able to implement any in-school testing program. That length of time would depend on several factors, the most pressing being how long it takes to receive the test kits from New York State and the approval process to administer the tests.  We anticipate that these non-invasive tests will be self-administered by adults and administered by our school nurses for students.  All testing would be conducted inside of the school.  Testing is something we are working toward, it is not something we are capable of doing at this time.

Consent:  In order to prepare for any potential in-school testing program, we must begin the process of collecting active consent from each of our families to administer tests to our in-school learners.  We are required to test a random sample of 20% of all in-school students and staff, remote only learners are excluded.  If we are unable to receive consent for students who attend in-school classes, those students will be asked to switch to remote only status as outlined by the New York State Department of Health.  We are working on a consent form that will be sent home to families in the near future.

Unknown at This Time: PVCSD remains committed to transparency during these challenging times, however, there is a lot of information that we do not yet have.  I’ve identified some of those items below:

  • Will NYS designate the entire county as a Yellow Zone or only a town or area as has been done in surrounding counties?
  • When will New York State notify us of any possible designation?
  • As the number of clusters identified by NYS continue to rise, will the Governor revise the metrics or intervene with new guidance?
  • Does NYS have enough tests to send to the growing number of schools identified within a Yellow Zone?  If so, how long will it take for those tests to arrive?
  • How many testing kits and machines will arrive?  How many tests can be processed in a day?  How long would it take to process tests for 20% of our students and staff?
  • Will Putnam County quickly move from a Yellow to an Orange Zone requiring schools to be closed?
  • Will we need to test staff back into the buildings before we can test students back into class?
  • What impact would positive test results stemming from in-district testing have on our instructional program?

Known at This Time: PVCSD staff has been working around the clock to get answers to our questions and to explore all viable options to safely keep our schools open.  Below is some of the information we have at this time:

  • There remains little evidence that the virus is spreading within schools. Statistically, schools are considered one of the safest places to be; our health and safety protocols are working.
  • The Putnam County Health Department is willing to partner with schools in their county to help with any potential testing program.
  • New York State has offered to provide testing kits to school districts within a NYS designated cluster zone.
  • The PVCSD is prepared to quickly transition into remote only instruction if the need arises.
  • In the event we are forced to close for in-person instruction, we will continue to pursue all available options to safely reopen our schools.
  • After testing 20% of our in-person students and staff, if our positivity rate is below the county rate, we do not need to continue weekly testing.

Thank you for your continued partnership during these difficult times.  As a District, we must be prepared to quickly transition to a remote learning for all model if New York State makes that determination.  Parents will also need to be prepared for this instructional shift, which could happen by the end of this week.  We will continue to explore all opportunities to resume in-person instruction as soon as it is permissible and safe.  In the event the district is forced into remote learning, our teachers are well prepared to ensure that students remain engaged and continue learning throughout any closure of our physical school buildings.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft

Superintendent of Schools

Board of Education Meeting Thursday 11/12/20 -7pm Live Stream @pvcsd.org

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

The Putnam Valley Central School District Board of Education will hold their regularly scheduled meeting, Thursday, November 12, at 7:00 pm in the High School Performing Arts Center. The meeting will open with a Public Hearing to receive comments on updates to the Code Of Conduct http://pvcsd.org/index.php/district/revised-code-of-conduct/. Any community member wishing to attend in person will be required to wear a mask and fill out a health questionnaire. Members of the public may also participate by clicking the live link on the school’s website, pvcsd.org. Members of the public will be able to ask questions during the meeting by emailing questions to: BoardQuestions@pvcsd.org

The email address will be monitored prior to and during the meeting. Questions will be compiled and will be shared with the Board during the public comment periods. We encourage your participation. For the purpose of the record of the meeting, please include your name in the email.

The agenda for the meeting can be found here: https://go.boarddocs.com/ny/pvcsd/Board.nsf/Public

Agenda topics include:

  • Introduction of Student Representatives to the Board of Education
  • Social Emotional Learning and Counseling Services: Dr. Natalie Doherty, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services and Human Resources, and Building Clinicians.
  • 2020 NYSSBA Annual Convention Wrap-up: Board Trustee, Barbara Parmly
  • Superintendent’s Report

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

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