Dear Putnam Valley Community,
For several weeks, we have had internal conversations regarding the possibility of safely bringing additional students back into our buildings each day. This work has been accelerated over the past few weeks as local and state authorities have started to provide the flexibility and encouragement for school districts to take this next step.
As we considered what our next steps may look like, it provided us the opportunity to reflect on all we have been able to accomplish this school year. While many school district plans are now focused on the return of elementary students, special education students, and other students identified as struggling within the hybrid learning model, we are reminded that is where we began in September. This is a testament to the collective efforts of our staff, students, and parents to best serve the students of Putnam Valley. Thank you!
During our Re-Entry Task Force earlier this week, I shared an overview of what our next phases of “reopening” may look like to a group of almost 40 teachers, administrators, parents, community members, local officials, and health care professionals. Throughout the meeting and subsequent discussions, there was strong support for the district to take the next step toward what we hope will be a full return to in-person instruction this fall.
The plan was outlined in two phases which are broken down below. There is also a one-page summary slide attached to this email.
Allow Middle School & High School hybrid students to return 4 days a week (Hybrid will remain an option)
Strive to maintain 6 feet of separation in each classroom
Barriers/shields used when distancing cannot be maintained
Maintain shortened day
Maintain remote Monday schedule at Middle/High School (Allows COVID testing to continue on select Mondays)
Beginning: Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Allow all-remote students to return
Maximize space between students (less than 6 feet likely)
Barriers/shields more widely used
Maintain shortened instructional day
Eliminate remote Mondays
Beginning: Tuesday, April 6, 2021 (Monday, April 5 – schools are closed for spring recess)
It is our belief that this next phase of reopening will allow us to safely bring additional students back into our classrooms while maintaining the time necessary to support our all-remote learners and continue to plan instruction that simultaneously supports in-person and remote learners.
Mask wearing will continue to be required, physical distancing will be maximized, and additional mitigation measures will be implemented (ventilation, filtration, barriers/shields, etc). Our daily cleaning procedures will also remain in place.
This shift will have an impact on district transportation where students may be asked to sit two per a seat and during lunch periods where we may be forced to split up groups, use alternate locations, or install barriers. The largest unknown at this time is how many all-remote learners decide to return to the classroom on April 6. As always, we are preparing as if they are all returning and will be sending out a survey to ask for a commitment to a learning model for the remainder of the school year.
This has been a year like no other, and I thank everyone for their partnership throughout. It is my belief that we must continue to progress toward a full return to school with hopes that updated NYSDOH guidance will allow us to begin next school year with all in-person instruction.
Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools