Dear PVHS Parents, Guardians, and Students,
It was just a few short weeks ago that we graduated the Class of 2020! The pandemic provided us with many challenges, but in the end, we were able to successfully hold three socially distanced ceremonies without any outbreaks of the COVID virus. Parents and students were very cooperative and it made for a wonderful day of celebrations for our students and families.
Now we are faced with a new challenge… beginning a new school year under tight NYSED restrictions to prevent the spread of the pandemic. First and foremost, the safety of our students is our number one priority and we will take every precaution necessary to ensure their safety and their well-being. Mr. Mello and I, along with the administrative team, have been carefully planning for September to guarantee that all measures are taken to provide a safe and emotionally healthy environment for our students.
We are eager to have students return to school, and we know many students and parents feel the same way. We also know that many families have serious concerns about returning to school during this health crisis. As mentioned in the PVCSD Re-entry Plan, parents who do not feel comfortable sending their children to school at this time will have the option of 100 percent remote learning with some constraints. Those families who choose to send their children to school will be in one of two 50% cohorts that have students divided into two separate groups by alphabetical order to guarantee that we only have half the students in the building at a time. The alphabetical division of students helps to spread students evenly throughout the building and create class sizes each day that range between 10-12 students in a class to maintain social distancing. This plan also allows siblings in the 5-12th grade to maintain the same daily schedule, which should make it much easier for families in multiple schools.
Our schedule at the high school alternates days for students and is attached to this email below. Students will be on a 7:50 am to 1:50 pm daily schedule. Our block periods will be abbreviated to allow for a shorter student day and enable students who are remote learning to meet with their teachers. A more detailed daily schedule will be sent out later with other school opening information as we get closer to September.
All faculty, staff, and students will be required to socially distance when in the building and wear masks at all times. This is non-negotiable. However, we will make sure that students receive “mask breaks” throughout the day. Also, the school has purchased several new picnic tables and benches to allow students to have some classes outside when the weather is cooperative. Sanitizer will be located throughout the building as well as water coolers to replace the use of a water fountain.
I am aware that there are some concerns about how the schedule will alternate students with cleaning the building. Mr. Spittal, Director of Building and Grounds, and our custodial staff have been working diligently all summer, rearranging classrooms, removing furniture, and sanitizing daily to ensure we are very prepared for September! We are very fortunate that the district purchased a mechanized sanitizer that can clean every classroom thoroughly in roughly 4-5 minutes. This allows the custodians to thoroughly disinfect rooms during our lunchtime and each afternoon, unlike other districts that are depending on only manpower to clean all of their classrooms. This enables our district to alternate students when other high schools are unable.
Additionally, our teachers felt strongly that the alternating days for each cohort maximizes the continuity of instruction and reduces the number of days in a row that students are out of the building. As an example, if a student’s last day was on a Wednesday, that would mean those students would be out of the building for 5 consecutive days making it much more difficult to engage those students in learning.
It’s important to note that if the virus continues to spread and the positivity rate in our area rises, we would be required to resort to an all-virtual learning model. In that situation, our schedule for virtual learning will look very similar to our hybrid model included in this email, minimizing confusion and maintaining accountability for students. Therefore, we suggest that you begin to prepare your child for a school routine. In either our hybrid model or all virtual classrooms, students will be required to attend their daily school schedule that begins at 7:50 each day. Unlike the spring, students will be required to attend all classes virtually or in person.
We understand that there is a great amount of uncertainty at this moment. Governor Cuomo will give his decision on the reopening of New York State schools on August 7th. Regardless of his decision, the school year will look very different from what everyone has been accustomed to experiencing over the years. Teachers and students will be adjusting to new procedures and social distancing and masks will be the norm. This situation is less than ideal for schools, but Mr. Mello and I are committed to making this temporary “new normal” as positive as possible so that everyone feels welcome and comfortable to return to our building.
More details regarding the reopening of school will be sent later this month. However, I wanted to clarify points that were written in our PVCSD Re-entry Plan to minimize any confusion. I appreciate the parents who have contacted me to express their concerns. Our goal at the high school is to partner with families to minimize stress during this transition and provide everyone with as much information as possible. Our plans will likely evolve and we will do our best to keep everyone connected as we work through this crisis. Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Mello or me if you have any questions. We value your input as we problem-solve this untenable situation. This is a very stressful time for families with many difficult decisions to make. If you are unsure of whether to send your child to school this September, we are here to discuss the situation with you to make the best possible choice for your family.
The weather looks very active this week. Please be safe and we hope that the rest of the summer is sunny and relaxing for everyone and their families.
Sandra K. Intrieri
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