I would like to express my gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the Putnam Valley Schools’ staff and administration for doing what was necessary to welcome students back into our buildings this week. Despite our ability to reopen schools, we remain on the tipping point of being unable to effectively staff our buildings. We are asking everyone to remain flexible as we continue to assess our situation on a daily basis.
In response to the current surge of COVID-19, the District has been forced to shift some of our practices to respond to the challenges before us. These changes are highlighted below.
Contact Tracing: It has become evident that the district will not be able to identify and report to the Department of Health the contacts of each positive case in a timely manner. At this time, we will pause the identification of close contacts. Notification will be made if your child was in the classroom or in close proximity with a positive individual. Surveillance testing is the most effective way to make sure your child is healthy. Everyone should closely monitor their child for any COVID related symptoms and immediately seek a test when symptoms first appear. More information on testing is below.
Testing: The Putnam Valley School District along with Putnam County Officials have committed to providing families with multiple testing opportunities. The District will increase availability of surveillance testing for staff, and Putnam County-run testing sites will be available from 6 AM to 9 AM exclusively for students and staff of Putnam County Schools. Limited quantities of home testing kits will be made available to families who are unable to travel to a county testing site. For more information on the Putnam County Testing Sites: http://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/covid19/#testing
Remote Access into Classroom: In response to the rapidly increasing number of individuals testing positive for COVID and the associated difficulty of identifying students who are symptomatic, under mandatory quarantine, or have tested positive; the district is preparing to offer short term remote access into the classroom. This access will provide students a window into the classroom. This option will be available through January 20 when the Board of Education will discuss whether an extension is needed. This is a short term solution to help us get through this surge, this will not be a long term option for students. Students who participate in remote access cannot participate in extracurricular activities or athletics. Remote access to the classroom will be available to the following students.
Students presenting symptoms related to COVID-19
Students awaiting test results
Students with household contacts who have tested positive or are symptomatic
Students who were close contacts to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19
Students who are at “high risk” due to underlying health concerns
Students with family members who are at “high risk” of health complications associated with COVID-19
Symptomatic Individuals: Increased availability of COVID tests and an option for remote learning should help ensure that symptomatic students remain at home. Anyone experiencing any of the symptoms related to COVID should be tested and take all precautions to prevent the virus’s spread. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
Fever or chills
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Muscle or body aches
New loss of taste or smell
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Test to Stay Program: When the District resumes the identification of contacts to positive individuals within school, a test to stay program will be available for only those students identified. NYS does not allow Test to Stay for out of district exposures; students quarantined from outside of school must complete their 10 days before returning to school. In the event your child is identified as a contact of an in-school exposure and asked to quarantine, they may take advantage of the Putnam County run testing clinic to test back into class. It is important to note that the Test to Stay program will allow students who test negative to return to class, but they will remain quarantined from extracurricular and out of district activities.
Return to Work Program: Each staff member is considered an essential employee and may qualify for the return to work program. Individuals who tested positive, but have resolved their symptoms, may return to work beginning on Day 6 of their isolation period.
Let’s all hope that this is the final surge and herd immunity will prevail over COVID-19. Let’s remain steadfast in the fact that we are Putnam Valley Strong, and we can weather this current storm together as we have before. Hang in there!
I am hopeful that everyone has enjoyed their break and is optimistic the New Year will bring better days ahead. Today, as we approach the anticipated reopening of schools on Monday, January 3, COVID remains prevalent in our nation, and I write to you today to keep you as informed as I can about our current status.
Throughout the break, we have been closely monitoring COVID’s impact on our school community. As we have previously shared, schools will reopen on Monday as long as we can safely staff our buildings. This current surge is not expected to dissipate in a day or a week, instead this is something we anticipate being with us for several weeks, hence closing schools could quickly become a longer term closure, which we want to avoid. Long term school closures would have an enormously negative impact on our community.
Our school district has proven that proper mitigation strategies can slow the spread of the virus in our classrooms. A vast majority of positive cases leading into the holiday break were exposures that took place outside of school. It is our belief that together we can continue to slow the spread of the virus in our buildings once schools reopen.
There have been several updates from the NYSDOH over the past week. Several of these updates will better allow us to keep students in school and allow asymptomatic staff members the possibility of returning to work early.
Test to Stay: The district expects a county supported Test to Stay program to be in place for unvaccinated and asymptomatic students who were exposed at school to test back into school during their quarantine period. We will share more details as soon as they become available.
Return to Work: Staff members who meet the criteria outlined by the recent CDC memo may be allowed to return to work on day 6 of their isolation. All conditions must be met and the district must request the individuals return to address staffing shortages.
Student Surveillance Testing: Surveillance testing will be available for those families who signed up to participate. Depending on test availability we anticipate reopening the sign up form for additional families who wish to participate. (12/8/21 email)
Staff Testing: Mandatory weekly testing remains in place for unvaccinated staff members, and surveillance testing is available for all staff members. Almost 200 self-test kits were sent home with staff members before the break to help ensure their safe return to work.
These are very difficult times, and we remain deeply aware of how decisions made by the district could impact families in different ways. We know that students learn best while in school. We know that we have been vigilant about preventing the spread of the virus in our schools. However, we must also be able to effectively staff our buildings to keep everyone safe.
We are looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back on Monday, January 3. If at any time we receive information that would prevent this from happening, any changes to our plan will be immediately shared with the community.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to our school district and our community. Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy, and happy new year and a bright 2022 ahead.
Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well and looking forward to the holiday celebrations to come. As evidenced by our recent newsletter, there is much to celebrate as a school community, and we are looking forward to the time with our families, as well as the promise of a bright new year ahead in 2022.
As we look ahead to what 2022 may bring, Putnam Valley School District continues to closely monitor the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases across our region and our schools. We have not experienced a surge of this magnitude, and it is evident that the Omicron variant has changed how quickly the virus spreads.
Frequent testing and remaining home while symptomatic have proven to be the most effective ways to keep the virus out of our schools. Universal mask wearing, social distancing, and proper hygiene have greatly reduced the spread of the virus within our schools. In fact, a majority of our current cases can be traced back to in-home or other out of school exposures.
The district remains committed to in-person instruction, as we know this type of learning greatly impacts student learning. It is our intention to reopen schools as scheduled on Monday, January 3. In the event we are unable to safely staff our buildings, the possibility exists that we could be forced back into short-term remote instruction.
We are hopeful that the upcoming break will provide an opportunity for the virus to dissipate, but we remain keenly aware that holiday gatherings may exacerbate the spread of the virus. We are requesting that families continue to notify the school district of any positive test results over the break, although our ability to conduct contact tracing will be greatly reduced. In the event that your child tests positive over break, we ask that they remain home from school until you are contacted by a school official. It may take school staff a couple of days to work through the backlog of cases.
The district has been working closely with neighboring districts, the Putnam County Department of Health, and the Putnam County Executive to explore the possible implementation of a Test to Stay (TTS) Program in Putnam County. While we await updated guidance from New York State regarding Test to Stay programs, we remain hopeful that a county supported program will make TTS a possibility for students in our schools.
Please enjoy your well-deserved holiday break. Be safe and stay well.
The month of December is always an exciting time of year here in the Putnam Valley School District. We are proud of the perseverance of our students in our classrooms and for the hard work many are putting in to prepare for musical performances and the winter sports season. With each passing day, you can see the excitement build on students’ faces, everyone is looking forward to the well-deserved holiday break.
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. It is important to recognize its impact on our school community, everyone is looking forward to the day we are able to move past these difficult times. Despite all the challenges before them, I remain extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of students, staff, teachers, and administrators; each group of individuals continues to go above and beyond to best serve the students of Putnam Valley. The Putnam Valley School District continues to excel; this success was most recently acknowledged in U.S. News and World Report, which placed Putnam Valley Elementary School in the top 4% of all elementary schools in New York State on last year’s state assessments.
This holiday season is an opportunity to reunite with friends and family, rekindle traditions that may have been put on hold last year, and to reflect on all we have experienced over the past year. It is also a time to remember those in our community who are struggling. The Putnam Valley School District, through the support of student organizations, is currently involved in a variety of community service and charitable events, including pajama and toy drives and support of the Putnam Valley Food Pantry. There is no greater gift than giving to those in need.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season!
The Putnam Valley School District is aware and has been closely monitoring a threatening social media post that has recently gone viral. As always, we are working closely with our neighboring school districts and the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office. As mentioned in the statement issued by the Sheriff’s Office, this threat originated from out of state and is not deemed to be credible. The post does not identify any specific school district.
Message from Putnam County Sheriff’s Office:
“As you are all aware, TikTok has been flooded with videos and comments about the possibility of school violence on December 17. It appears that it started in Texas and went viral in the past few days. The Sheriff’s Department, along with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, are closely monitoring social media for any potential threat to our area schools. At this time, there has been no threat made to any area school, and I will update you all should any new information or possible threats arise. Out of an abundance of caution, I will have extra patrols checking all county schools throughout the day tomorrow…”
This post follows the recent tragedy at Oxford High School in Michigan and is a stark reminder that student safety must remain our highest priority. Our building and district emergency response teams continually meet to review and revise our procedures and receive updated training. Each of our buildings has threat and risk assessment teams that are trained to identify students in crisis. Clinical staff providers are always available to students and can offer a wide range of mental health support systems.
We encourage all students to speak directly to a trusted adult in our buildings about any problem or concern. Additionally, we have found Anonymous Alerts to be a useful tool for non-emergency reporting. This electronic reporting system, accessible via our website and the PutnamValley CSD mobile app, allows students or parents to quickly, easily, and anonymously report urgent information to school officials across all of our school campuses.
These types of threatening messages are taken very seriously by law enforcement, and as witnessed in neighboring communities, the creators of these posts are often quickly identified and face significant consequences. Speaking with your children about the powers and dangers of their social media use will help to keep them safe. As always, if you or your child witness any suspicious activities, please contact law enforcement immediately.
In accordance with the guidance issued by the New York State Department of Health, the Putnam Valley School District will be implementing COVID surveillance testing for interested students. Interested families will need to “opt-in” to participate in the surveillance testing program, testing is voluntary.
The District is exploring a variety of in-school and at-home testing solutions. First, we must identify how many students will participate before deciding on how to best implement the testing program. A similar testing program for staff has been in place for several months.
Please complete the form below if you would like your child(ren) to participate in the COVID surveillance testing program. Please submit one form per child. More information will be provided as soon as we know how many students will participate in the program.
This time of year provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on all we are grateful for. The past couple of years have been difficult for everyone, both personally and professionally. As we captured in our pre-pandemic district goal, it is how we respond to those challenges that matters most. Let me share some of the things I am most grateful for:
I am grateful that my family is happy and healthy.
I am grateful for how the Putnam Valley School District continues to rise to the challenge and do our best to support all of our students.
I am grateful to have all of our students back in school, audience members at our performances, and crowds in our stands.
I am grateful for the energy that has been restored to our buildings.
I am grateful for all of the staff members who continue to go above and beyond their typical responsibilities to keep our students and staff healthy, safe, and academically engaged.
I am grateful to work for a school district who puts the children first and a community that was my home for many years and will always be close to my heart.
Thanksgiving is a time to reconnect with family and friends, rest and relax, and make new memories. As a staff, we are making a conscious effort to look to our colleagues and our students and to reflect on all we have to be grateful for. Handwritten notes of thanks have been making their way through our buildings, and they are proving that gratitude is contagious. I hope everyone has some time leading up to the Thanksgiving break to reflect on what makes you grateful. It’s also a time to remember that many in our community continue to struggle. Please consider taking the time to reach out to offer support to someone in need and to share your gratitude with others. The act of giving may be the greatest gift you receive.
The Putnam Valley Central School District Board of Education will hold their regularly scheduled Business Meeting, tonight, Thursday, November 18, at 7:00 pm in the High School Cafeteria. The Board of Education will convene this evening at 6:30 pm for Executive Session. The Board will reconvene at 7:00 pm in the High School Cafeteria for the public portion of the meeting.
Board of Education meeting dates are posted on our website and meetings are open to the public. Any community member wishing to attend in person will be required to wear a mask. Meetings are streamed live and you can find the link on the front page of the school’s website, pvcsd.org.
This Thursday, November 11, is Veterans Day. As the oldest of four brothers raised in Putnam Valley, I have had many opportunities to assume the role of the proud older brother; mostly on the sports fields and courts in and around Putnam Valley. However, one of my proudest moments had nothing to do with athletics, academics, or the arts; it was attending my brother Jayson’s graduation from Parris Island, the day he became a U.S. Marine.
Each year as Veterans Day approaches, I am reminded of the great pride my family and I felt that day and for the many years of service he provided this great nation. My family always takes time to reach out and thank him for his service each Veterans Day. I am hopeful that I’m teaching my two boys to respect and honor those who serve our country.
This Thursday, in honor of Veterans Day, it is my hope that everyone in our community will take the opportunity to thank a military veteran for their service. The pictures and names of many of Putnam Valley’s military veterans line the sides of Peekskill Hollow Road, Oscawana Lake Road, and along Morrissey Drive (my brother is the second on the right). These banners have quickly become a source of great pride within our community, and I am hopeful they will continue to grow in numbers over the coming years.
While there may be division within our country, state, and even our town, Veterans Day provides an opportunity to come together and support a common cause by letting our military veterans know how much they are appreciated.
Thank you to all of our Putnam Valley residents and alumni who have served.
As I am sure you are aware, the FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 5-11. The vaccine is a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine that has already been fully authorized by the FDA for adults. We are aware that this announcement was welcome news to many parents who have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to vaccinate their children and we respect the decision of those parents who choose not to vaccinate their children at this time. We encourage everyone to speak directly to their pediatrician regarding the vaccine before making a decision on how to best move forward for their family.
Students who receive their first dose of the vaccine in the next few weeks would be fully vaccinated by the holidays. The current NYSDOH guidelines do not require vaccinated individuals to quarantine in the event of an exposure, as long as they remain symptom free.
Many parents have struggled to find available vaccination appointments for their children. In response to the current lack of available appointments, the Putnam County Department of Health will be hosting a number of vaccination clinics, for children, adults, and booster shots.