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First Responder Recognition – PVES Read Aloud Friday 10/29 – Will you join us?

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

In honor of First Responder Appreciation Day, October 28, 2021, the district is holding special events at each building. In preparation for our activities, we sent this community-wide interest survey to all first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, medical professionals, military personnel, etc).

If you are interested in attending any of these remaining events, please complete the form below.  Additional information will be shared with those interested in participating.

Putnam Valley Elementary School – First Responder Read Aloud: Come read a book about your profession to an elementary school class, answer questions, and tell the students a little bit about your typical day on Friday, October 29, times to be assigned. (Read aloud is scheduled to begin at 9:30 am. Spend 10-15 minutes with an elementary class. If you need help with a book OR if you are interested in participating virtually, please let us know)

Putnam Valley Middle School – First Responder Equipment and Apparatus: We have had a great response from local first responders to show off their gear to our middle school students during their lunch periods. High school students will be invited to visit as well. Thursday, October 28 (Rain Date: Friday, October 29); 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

We are especially looking for first responders to read to an elementary school class.

Please Click Here to Access the Form

Putnam Valley High School – UPDATE: We invited all first responders living or working in Putnam Valley to be recognized before our Homecoming football game held last Friday, October 15. We would like to thank all of the first responders who escorted our football team down to the field and would like to extend a special thank you to the Putnam Valley Volunteer Fire Department Color Guard.

Thank you all for your service!

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of School

First Responder Recognition – Interest Survey – 10/15, 10/28, 10/29

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

In honor of First Responder Appreciation Day, October 28, 2021, the district is holding special events at each building and would appreciate volunteers from our First Responder families and town residents. In preparation for our activities, we are sending out this community-wide interest survey to all first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, medical professionals, military personnel, etc).  Please see an outline of the week’s events below. If you are interested in attending any of these events, please complete the form below.  Additional information will be shared with those interested in participating.

Putnam Valley High School – Honoring our First Responders: We invite all first responders living or working in Putnam Valley to be recognized before our Homecoming football game scheduled for Friday, October 15. Kickoff is at 6:00 pm.  We would like our first responders to lead the team down onto the field at approximately 5:30 pm and be recognized at the start of the game.

Putnam Valley Elementary School – First Responder Read Aloud: Come read a book about your profession to an elementary school class, answer questions, and tell the students a little bit about your typical day on Friday, October 29, times to be assigned.

Putnam Valley Middle School – First Responder Equipment and Apparatus: We are inviting local first responders to show off their gear to our middle school students during their lunch periods.  Thursday, October 28 (Rain Date: Friday, October 29); 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

If you are interested in participating in any (or all) of these activities, please complete the interest survey below.  Thank you for your service!

Please Click Here to Access the Form

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of School

Msg. from Dr. Luft – Invite to Listening Hour – Thursday 10/7/21

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

I will be hosting a Superintendent’s Listening Hour next Thursday, October 7, at 5:45 pm in the High School Library, just prior to our scheduled Board of Education meeting. Please consider joining me to meet our new Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Ms. Jackie Levine, who joined our PVCSD team in July.  This will be an opportunity to discuss curriculum initiatives for this school year.  We will also be looking for input for future round-table meeting topics that help to foster relationships between home and school.

The goal of our Listening Hour is always to share student-centered perspectives and consider our opportunities and challenges.

To ensure appropriate space needs please respond here if you are able to attend. As per New York State Department of Health guidelines, all attendees will be required to wear a mask.

At 7:00 pm, our Board of Education meeting will begin in the High School Cafeteria. Board meetings are open to the public and are streamed live on our website, pvcsd.org

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

Msg. from Dr. Luft – PVES Assistant Principal

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

I am pleased to announce that after an extensive interview process that began with over 110 applicants, we welcome Jennifer Picco as the next Assistant Principal of Putnam Valley Elementary School.  Ms. Picco will be assuming the position vacated by Tom Chickery who recently accepted the position of Middle School Assistant Principal in the Eastchester School District.  We thank Mr. Chickery for his dedicated service to the Putnam Valley School District and wish him the best in his new position.

Ms. Picco joins our administrative team after serving in a variety of classroom teacher and teacher leadership positions within the Pleasantville School District.  Most recently, Ms. Picco has served as a Curriculum Coordinator working closely with her administrative colleagues to align curriculum, analyze data, share instructional best practices, among many other professional learning opportunities.  Ms. Picco holds certifications in Elementary (Pre K – 6), Students with Disabilities (B-2), Reading (K-12), TESOL, and an Internship Certification in School Building Leadership.

The interview committee was impressed by Ms. Picco’s energy and passion throughout the interview process.  Ms. Picco brings many years of experience to Putnam Valley Elementary School and we are looking forward to her sharing that knowledge with her new colleagues.

Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Ms. Picco into her new role as Assistant Principal at Putnam Valley Elementary School.  We anticipate Ms. Picco will formally assume the role effective October 25, 2021.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

/ / Superintendent's Messages

September 11, National Day of Service and Remembrance

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Reflecting on the return to school this week, I’m feeling tremendous pride and gratitude for our PV students and staff, and at the same time, I’m finding it difficult to comprehend that this Saturday, September 11, 2021, will mark the 20th anniversary of that tragic day.  A day when everyone who is old enough to remember, can identify exactly where they stood as the events of that day unfolded.  Personally, I was standing alongside a colleague at Putnam Valley High School; the feelings and emotions from that day are still so raw that they are difficult for me to discuss.  It also warrants mention that not a single student, currently attending Putnam Valley Schools, was alive on September 11, 2001.

Despite all of the trauma that still surrounds the anniversary of September 11 each year, I want to take this opportunity to recognize the true heroes of that day.  The courageous first responders who rushed toward danger to protect those they swore to serve, but never returned home to their own families.  Those who spent weeks or months searching through the fallen rubble, without regard for their own personal health; only to find out years later the cost of that service.

While, in my lifetime, the country has never seemed as divided as it is today, I’ll always remember how we came together following the attacks of September 11 to support each other and our country through those most challenging times.  I’m hopeful that our country will once again be able to reunite, this time without a national tragedy serving as the backdrop.

Many in our school community know someone who was lost that day or taken by the disease that consumed them following their service at the World Trade Center site.  Twenty years feels like a lifetime ago for many of us and was in fact a lifetime ago for our students.  This anniversary marks an important reminder for all of us to remember the heroes and victims of that fateful day.

Tomorrow, Putnam Valley will hold their annual 9/11 remembrance at Town Park beginning at 6 pm and Putnam County will hold a candlelight vigil in Carmel beginning at 7 pm (details).

Take care of each other and enjoy the weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

/ / Superintendent's Messages

Remote and Quarantined instruction

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

As everyone begins to settle back into school during these first two interrupted weeks of instruction, I would like to take this opportunity to restate and clarify some information:

Remote vs Quarantined Instruction:  These two terms have been used within a variety of communications and warrant clarification.

  • Remote instruction is typically used to describe what was offered last school year, when families could opt into virtual vs in-person instruction.  As previously communicated, remote instruction is no longer an option this year (links to previous emails).  This should not be confused with quarantined instruction which is our continued commitment to educate those students who are subject to mandatory quarantine.

  • Quarantined students should expect a blend of live virtual interactions supplemented with written assignments. Current NYS guidance on identifying close contacts and the issuance of the subsequent quarantine orders should drastically reduce the number of students quarantined this year.

Vaccinations:  The Department of Health does not require vaccinated students to quarantine.  Only students ages 12 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.  Students who are vaccinated can avoid quarantine by completing the brief questionnaire for our school nurses. All information will remain strictly confidential. Click Here for Form

Attendance: The district must continue to track and report the number of students physically in school each day. This will require us to mark quarantined students with an “excused absence”.  This absence does not exclude your child from instruction and will not have any negative impact on the student.

Quarantine Orders:  The current guidelines provided by the NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) identify a close contact in school buildings as an individual within 3 feet while masked or within 6 feet while unmasked.  These measures pertain to both indoor and outdoor exposures.  Students are seated at least 3 feet apart in most classrooms, so quarantines should be minimized. Vaccination status remains a determining factor if individuals need to quarantine following an exposure.

I will continue to share guidance as it is received from state and local officials and will ask for your understanding as we continue to send reminders about exercising great caution and keeping sick children home from school. We understand that this can be difficult and thank you for your partnership in keeping our community healthy and our school buildings open.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me, your building administrators, or your school nurse if we can answer any questions.

Sincerely,
Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

Welcome Back! Thank you for your partnership!

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

With open arms and smiling faces, we welcomed students back into our buildings.  The energy has been restored to our buildings and our classrooms are again filled with students eager to learn alongside their peers.  Our staff members rejoice in the fact that their classrooms once again resemble the student-centered learning environments of years past and not rows of desks, reminiscent of the “industrial model” of classroom spaces.  Collectively, we are looking forward to a school year filled with academic rigor, student wellbeing, and a safe and healthy return to in-person learning.

The health and safety of our students and staff remain our highest priority.  As we greeted students returning to school today, we witnessed universal compliance regarding the masking mandate issued by the NYSDOH and thank all of our families for their continued support.  We remain confident that universal masking along with the other health and safety protocols we have in place will allow us to keep our building open and our students learning in our classrooms.

Our reopenings plans were designed around this year’s atypical school calendar and provide students and staff with an opportunity to safely and efficiently transition back into school.  Everyone is eager to return to a more normal school schedule.

Please continue to play your part in helping to keep our schools open.  Although there will no longer be a requirement to complete a student screening each morning, it is more important than ever to keep your child home if they are not feeling well and see your pediatrician or another medical professional.  If your child was exposed to an individual who tested positive, please follow the appropriate quarantine guidelines and have your child tested.  (reopening information including quarantine details) Together, we should be able to keep our schools safe and our students in class.

Thank you,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

Update from Dr. Luft – Excitement is building!

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

Excitement is building as we are only days away from welcoming our students back into our classrooms.  Over the past several weeks we have had the opportunity to see many current students participate in our summer enrichment programs and welcomed our incoming Kindergarten students with our traditional bus run and classroom visit.

While the excitement we were feeling in June that COVID would soon be a thing of the past has been replaced by the recent surge in new cases driven by the Delta variant, we are accepting that COVID will, unfortunately, have an impact for at least the beginning of the school year.

To that effect, I wanted to provide you with some of our reopening plans for the upcoming school year.  I would also like to thank my colleagues and the members of the district’s Re-entry Task Force for their input and feedback in the creation of plans that will allow us to safely reopen our buildings and welcome our students back.

Please understand that our reopening guidance is based on the information we have gathered as of today; in the event New York State issues new guidance it will supersede the current plans we are sharing today.

Vaccinations:

  • Vaccinations remain the most effective way to avoid contracting COVID and protect against severe illness if infected

  • Vaccination status will prevent quarantine, unless symptomatic

  • Anyone twelve years of age or older is eligible to receive the vaccination, and we do not yet have a timeline for when it will be available to all students

  • The Putnam Valley School District will partner with anyone who is eligible and seeking to be vaccinated

  • NYS announced that booster shots will soon be available

  • Governor Hochul has announced plans to pursue mandatory vaccinations for all school district staff

Face Coverings:

  • As per New York State Department of Health, face coverings will be mandatory for everyone while in school (vaccinated and unvaccinated)

  • Overwhelming guidance from the CDC and AAP along with information shared by the New York State Department of Education, Putnam County Health Department and our School Physician all agree that mask usage should be universal in schools

  • Considerations include: Health and Safety, Prevention/Reduction of Contact Tracing, Liability, and Prioritization of In-Person Learning

  • Monitor community transmission rates in hopes that universal masking will no longer be necessary and vaccination rates increase and community transmission rates decrease

  • Emphasis: Masks primarily control exhalation (protecting others), before inhalation (protecting self)

  • Face coverings are recommended, but not required outdoors

Physical Distancing:

  • Recommendation is 3 feet of social distance between students while indoors and wearing a mask (unless distance does not allow for full return to in-person instruction, as per NYSED).

  • Outdoor mask use is recommended but not required at this time

  • 6 feet of distance is recommended between students and unvaccinated adults

  • Cohorting is recommended when possible to limit potential exposure

  • Social distancing should be maximized when students are unmasked (lunch, band, etc).

Testing:

  • Weekly staff testing program planned for upcoming school year

  • New York State announced that schools will now be required to weekly test unvaccinated staff

  • Student testing remains optional, parent permission must be obtained

  • Extracurricular sports and activities may result in additional testing requirements

  • Screening testing is recommended for students in areas with substantial or high community transmission.

  • District is looking to partner with outside agencies to help facilitate testing

  • Our School Nurses have been instrumental in supporting this work

Daily Screenings:

  • Daily Screeners and Temperature Checks are no longer recommended

  • Concerted efforts must continue to advise the entire school community to keep symptomatic or exposed individuals home

  • Efforts will be made to promote making the right choice instead of monitoring daily email compliance

Personal Hygiene:

  • Regular hand washing

  • Respiratory hygiene

  • Hand sanitizer

Contact Tracing/Quarantine Orders:

  • Awaiting additional information from NYS regarding contact tracing, we will follow the guidance below.

    • Students: 3 feet (if masks are properly worn by all), otherwise as determined by case investigation

    • Staff: 6 foot radius around infected person

    • Time exposure:  10 minutes over 24 hours (cumulative, may be changed to 15 min by NYS)

  • Vaccinated individuals do not need to quarantine unless symptomatic

    • Recommends testing between days 3-5

  • Unvaccinated individuals must quarantine

  • Student quarantines will be rare in typical classroom settings (3ft and a mask, avoids quarantine)

Facilities/Transportation:

  • Our HVAC system remains highly efficient and utilizes Merv-13 filters

  • Maximization of fresh air intake (HVAC & Windows)

  • Transportation:  No social distancing, windows open, masks required

  • Cleaning/Disinfection: Daily cleaning of all spaces continue

  • De-emphasis on surface transmission

  • Wipe down of high touch surfaces will continue

  • Desk cleaner available if requested

Remote Instruction:

  • All-remote instruction will not be available this year, all students are encouraged to attend in-person; homeschooling remains the other option

  • Instruction of quarantined students remains our responsibility

    • How do we best educate quarantined students over short periods of time?

    • Buildings are working on plans to best support teachers and students

  • Shift thinking from remote learning to quarantined instruction

    • Different expectations, No pre-planning, Small number of students, Short periods of time, Teacher flexibility (asynchronous vs synchronous), Additional staff support, Etc

  • Students who are otherwise home sick or on vacation would not qualify for remote instruction; teacher-determined resources will be provided as in years past

Athletics & Music Education:

  • Close contact sports and indoor sports are particularly risky.

  • Similar risks may exist for music education and performances, such as band, choir, and theater.

  • Masks are required indoors for all student-athletes, regardless of vaccination status

  • Students should refrain from these activities when they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and should be tested

  • Strongly encourage COVID-19 screening testing for student-athletes, students participating in music education, or other activities with elevated risk

  • We plan to offer a full athletic program, all student-athletes, especially those who participate in “high-risk” sports are encouraged to be vaccinated

Along with the health and safety precautions that will be in place when school reopens next week, we remain committed to providing a safe, supportive, and rigorous learning environment for all students.

Thank you for your continued partnership to keep our students safely in school and our buildings open.  Adherence to the guidelines above, specifically the requirement to keep sick children at home, will help allow our students to benefit from in-person instruction.

Thank you,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

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Summer programs masks

Dear Putnam Valley Community:

In light of rising COVID cases in our community and throughout the region, coupled with the higher transmission rate of the Delta variant, we are strongly encouraging all students who are scheduled to attend any of our summer programs to wear a mask while indoors.  We want to do everything we can to keep our students and staff healthy and safe.
Thank you.

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools

Prioritizing the aims of our mission is ongoing – Parent engagement

Dear Putnam Valley Parents,

Putnam Valley Central School District, in partnership with our families and community, commits to our mission to ensure that all students are engaged in a challenging, student-focused educational program, understand and assume their responsibility for life-long learning, work to achieve their personal best, and become productive citizens in a diverse global society. We are proud of what we have accomplished over the years to live up to this mission statement; we have a long standing tradition of serving all students and embracing our cultural differences. We also recognize that prioritizing the aims of our mission and vision is ongoing work and that we benefit when the community shares feedback and ideas to help us see where we could further grow and learn.

This year, the New York State Department of Education Board of Regents “launched an initiative to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in schools across New York State. The Board expects that all school districts will develop policies that advance diversity, equity and inclusion – and that they implement such policies with fidelity and urgency” (www.nysed.gov, 2021). PVCSD has drafted a policy that has been shared with the community and will continue to be revised based on input from the community.

To that end, we are engaging stakeholders from our faculty, our parents, and our students in moving forward to ensure our practices and policies support all learners and celebrate all of our differences. On August 26, we are offering a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Parent Engagement opportunity. We aim to gather a representative group of our school district parents who will participate in these conversations and provide input that will help support our District’s DEI work. From this workgroup, two parent representatives will be identified and invited to join the District DEI committee to represent the parent voices.  The purpose of our district DEI Committee is to ensure our school policies and practices continue to engage and support all of our students and embrace our diversity as a community.

We would like to invite parents who are interested in attending our parent meeting on August 26 at 5pm in the High School Library to please complete the questionnaire below. In an effort to maintain a safe environment for all in regard to COVID-19, we may need to limit the number of parent participants. We are committed to engaging a representative group of parents in this work.

If you are interested in this parent workshop, please complete the form linked below by August 9. Participants will be notified and receive a calendar invite to join the meeting in person. Virtual participation in this meeting will not be available.

https://forms.gle/NXPJNbStugpGLCcd6

Thank you for your continued partnership.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools