Putnam Valley Elementary School

Dear PVES Families,

And the school year begins!  It has taken an incredible amount of planning and teamwork (and hope!), but we are finally ready to open schools for our PVES students!  This is so exciting, and our staff can’t wait to welcome both our in-school learners and our distance/remote learners to their learning communities this week!  As you know, we are following a special opening schedule for just this week.  On Tuesday, we are welcoming only students in Grades 3 and 4 to school.  On Wednesday, we are welcoming only students in Grades 1 and 2 to school.  On Thursday, we will welcome students in Grades 1, 2, 3, and 4 to school.  And, on Friday, students in Grades K, 1, 2, 3 and 4 will come to school.  On all days, teachers will be setting up virtual meetings and online classroom connections with all students.  Remote learners will pick up school learning supplies on Tuesday (Grades 1 & 2) and on Wednesday (Grades 3 & 4) between 10:00 and 2:00.  And, on Tuesday through Thursday, our individual Kindergarten screening appointments will take place.  We will certainly be busy, but we are so excited to be welcoming back our PVES students for the first time since mid-March!

There is a great deal to know about PVES Arrival and Dismissal this year.  All students riding buses will have assigned seats, as social distancing guidelines must be enforced on all school buses.  This year, our students will NOT be able to bring a note to school allowing them to ride a different bus, and they may not change buses in the morning.  All buses will have limited seating, and NO bus changes will be allowed.  Many students will be driven to school and picked up by their parents, which is fine.  All students going to Children’s Center or getting picked up by a parent after school must bring that information on a NOTE on the first day of school so that we know not to put them on the bus.  Mrs. Sillery will review all student dismissal notes and finalize the regular dismissal plans for all PVES students this week. This is extremely important. If, on a certain day, a student is going to be picked up by a friend’s parent after school (and not take the bus or be picked up by his/her regular driver), a bus note will be required.  In other words, we need your written communication, and once dismissal plans are documented, we will be following them carefully.

All parents dropping off their children in the morning should aim to arrive between 9:00 and 9:10. Please drive to the front of the school where you will be guided for a safe drop-off.  When signaled by a staff member, students must exit their cars from doors that are adjacent to the sidewalk in front of the school.  At the end of the day, we ask that all “Pick-up Parents” arrive at the front of the school between 2:40 and 2:50.  Cars will drive to the front of the building and proceed toward the end of the driveway, near the cafeteria doors.  Parents will remain in your cars, and your child will be brought to you.  It would help a great deal if you had a sign inside your car on your windshield showing your child’s last name and grade level.  However, we will be checking with you as you drive up, and all “Pick-up”parents/guardian should know the child’s PIN number.  Thank you for your patience as we work to modify and improve our arrival and dismissal processes throughout the first few weeks of school.  We may modify our times a bit if traffic is too congested.

Staff and students will be wearing masks in school at all times.  All classes will have brief hourly “mask breaks.” Some mask breaks will take place in the classroom with social distancing, and others will be a bit longer in large open spaces within the school or outside.  During outdoor recess, students will wear masks so that they can be physically active if they choose. Recess will take place on the side soccer field, and the playground equipment will not be used.  As a school, we are taking all precautions to ensure safety and health, and these practices will become the norm for now.

Parents, it is absolutely imperative that you screen your child for symptoms of illness every morning before school.  Please take your child’s temperature (without fever-reducing medicine), and screen for a cough, headache, cold symptoms, etc.  We ask, of course, that you do not give your child fever-reducing medicine before school that may mask symptoms of illness, and therefore, put others at risk.  If your child should experience symptoms of illness while in school, he/she will be brought to a quarantine room, and you will be called to pick your child up.  You will then need a doctor’s note stating that your child can return to school.  We realize that these precautions are extremely tricky regarding young children, as we know that elementary students often experience minor childhood illnesses with many similar symptoms.  However, this is not the year that we can take chances.  If your child is sick, he or she will be sent home.  Children experiencing minor injuries and requiring ice packs and band aids will not be sent to the isolation room.  The nurse will see them in the health office.

With all of these regulated changes and with all of the time that has passed since March, we realize that the transition back to school may be challenging for many of our students, especially because school will look and feel different this year for both in-school and at-home learners. We also realize that this has been a very stressful time for parents, school staff members, and teachers who are working so hard to prepare for their blended classrooms right now. You are all welcome to visit this site created by our clinical team, as it may be beneficial to supporting social emotional wellness.

Please also reach out to our school psychologist and counselor if you feel your child would benefit from some extra support during this school transition.  As we work together to keep our schools safe, we will continue to support each other as a learning community during these most challenging times.  PV continues to lead the way!

Students may bring a snack to school for each day, along with a water bottle.  The water bottles that do not spill are best!  (Thank you to our PTA for purchasing a brand-new water bottle for each PVES student this year! These will be distributed to the children soon). Children may bring or buy lunch every day, and they will let their teacher know if they are ordering lunch each morning in the classroom.  Please be aware of food allergies in your child’s classroom, as this will be monitored closely.  Children will be eating lunch before going to recess this year, so please check your child’s lunch time and daily special class schedule with your child’s teacher.

Thank you so much for your patience and cooperation as our teachers continue to learn and manage in-school and virtual classrooms at the same time, and for the first time.  I am beyond impressed with our PVES staff, who continue to rise to the challenges of today, all while always putting the needs of the students first.  Thank you also to our custodial staff who has worked tirelessly over the past month to make our classrooms safe and socially distanced.  This took an incredible amount of planning and work, but our classrooms are clean, distanced, and extremely inviting for your children.  Thank you also for your flexibility and understanding as we work to continuously improve the plans we have in place.  We will get better as we learn together!

As I begin my eighth year as principal of this wonderful school, I know I never could have predicted the unique and complex challenges that have come our way this year.  I thank my district administrative team for the incredible support and guidance they have provided so that we could get to this point, and of course, I thank the PVES staff who are making this all possible.  We are truly ready for a safe and successful start to a brand-new school year.  Let’s work together to make this a great one!

Thank you for being such an important part of this school opening process.  We need you to work with us, every step of the way.

Here we go!

Dr. Podesta