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Superintendent Emails and Updates - August 2020
August 28, 2020
Dear Syosset Community,
The weeks before school starts in the fall are always a buzz of activity and excitement here at the District, but never has there been so much activity. This summer, teachers, administrators, Board members and District staff have been working tirelessly to provide the best possible experience for our students when they return to school, whether here in-person or virtually. We are really excited to see kids back in the buildings.
This will be a year like no other. Classrooms will be different, instruction will be different, lunch, transportation, and recess will all be unlike anything we’ve done before. We’re not returning to school as we know it, but rather school as it must be - at least for this year. We know the limitations imposed by these circumstances may impede our teachers’ and principals’ from delivering the very high standard for which they’re known, but they cannot diminish our commitment to doing whatever it takes to provide an educational experience in which our students nevertheless thrive.
First Week of School
Information was sent out earlier today regarding the schedule for the reopening of the elementary and middle schools. In order to allow our students to gain a solid understanding of the new health and safety protocols, and familiarize themselves with the new setup of the buildings, we will be bringing students at these levels back to school in a graduated fashion with select grades attending on days one and two.
A smaller group of students in the buildings on the first two days will allow for more individualized attention to our young learners as they return to school under these most unique circumstances and prioritizes the social-emotional, health and safety, and intellectual needs of our students. It will also allow us to observe how busing, parent drop off, and the temperature-taking protocols all work with a limited number of students at first.
Travel Advisory Information
I’d like to be sure everyone is aware of the travel advisory issued by the NYSDOH for states that have a significant degree of community-wide spread of COVID-19. If you have traveled from within one of the designated states with significant community spread, you must quarantine when you enter New York for 14 days from the last travel within such designated state (even if the state is later removed from the list). This current list of states can be found at the following link:
Additional details are posted on the District website. Please be aware this is an Executive Order. Violations will be enforced pursuant to Article 21 of the public health law, and non-compliance may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $10,000. We must all take personal responsibility for complying with the advisory in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our whole learning community.
As you may have seen in recent news reports, Section VIII, the governing body for interscholastic athletics in Nassau County, has made the decision to delay the start of sports in Nassau County in favor of an alternative plan to play all three seasons in a truncated schedule beginning early next year. The Section VIII Board later issued a statement indicating they may reconsider this decision.
Syosset had been working towards the resumption of interscholastic athletics in earnest since the Governor’s announcement that most sports could resume on September 21, and Section VIII’s decision was a surprise. I have been actively working with our coaches and Athletic Director to understand the safety protocols they had been putting into place (should Section VIII reconsider) and asked them to develop back-up plans to provide our student athletes with alternative opportunities (should the decision remain unchanged). I will closely follow future developments with Section VIII and keep the community updated on their efforts and on ours.
Bus routing information was mailed out today. As I’ve previously mentioned, there will be several new transportation protocols in place this year as we implement new, low-density routes and other protocols to allow for appropriate social distancing and other health and safety measures. Information is posted on the District website. I’d like to call your attention to the following important new protocols:
- Students will not be permitted to board any bus that they have not been assigned to by the District. Drivers will need to verify bus attendance and to record ridership levels. For example, we cannot accommodate students going home with a friend at this time (whether for a play date or child care). We will review this protocol at a later date to determine if there can be more flexibility later in the year.
- Students cannot be released from school to the parents/guardians of other students.
- Except for emergency situations, students should maintain the same mode of transportation for the month of September as schools cannot accommodate modifications to transportation.
Specific arrival and dismissal information will be provided soon by the building principals. This process will require extraordinary amounts of flexibility and patience from the public. We have been performing calculations on the number of cars likely to arrive at every campus and the inability to accommodate everyone within our physical locations.
As with Transportation, school lunch will also look different this year. We will start the year with limited menus choices, and all food will be prepackaged. Lunch will be delivered directly to classrooms in the elementary and middle schools, and will be available in a grab-and-go style in multiple locations at the high school. Please be aware no outside delivery of meals or meal drop off by parents will be permitted. Additional information about the school lunch program can be found in the Food Services section of the District website.
The printed District calendar should arrive in the next two weeks. The calendar includes an abridged version of events, as the status of many of the school events typically planned throughout the year is uncertain at this time. Please refer to the calendar on the District website for the most up-to-date information on events.
The high school Robotics team Syosset ELITE continues to impress me and serve our community. The team recently launched a new project named CADemy, through which they are providing programming lessons to students. So far the team has engaged in over 500 hours of teaching lessons in 3D CAD, Scratch, and Scratch-Junior.
I hope you are all enjoying the remaining days of summer, and taking time to recharge before we reopen schools and hopefully see one another again.
August 7, 2020
Dear Syosset Community,
Governor Cuomo announced today that all New York schools can open for the 2020-21 school year. His decision was based on the seven-day rolling infection rate in the state’s 10 regions, which is hovering near 1% -- well below the 5% threshold the Governor set. However, should that rate increase to above 9% in any region, the schools in that region will be required to close, and all students will engage in a virtual learning model.
The NYS Department of Health is currently reviewing individual school districts’ reopening plans. Syosset submitted its reopening plan to the state on July 31, 2020. This plan is posted on the District website.
In addition, with his announcement, the Governor stated school districts are required to:
- Post their remote learning plans and testing/tracing plans online.
- Syosset included information on the remote learning instructional model in the Reopening Plan posted to the District website on July 31, 2020.
- Additional details have been posted today on both the learning plans and our testing and tracing protocols and can be found in our new FAQ document.
- Schedule at least three discussion sessions with parents and community members prior to August 21.
- We will be providing details on these community engagements shortly.
- Have at least one separate discussion with teachers to fully review the reopening plans.
- We will provide our teachers with information on this engagement shortly.
The Governor also noted that students are required to wear a mask when social distancing is impossible, as with all spaces outside the home, and every student should always have a mask with them at school. The District will provide one if a student or staff member comes to school without one.
The Governor has stressed the importance of communication with our learning community. Syosset is committed to providing frequent, comprehensive information on our reopening plans and any modifications as necessary. To date, the Board of Education has held two public meetings to review the reopening plans, and the District has conducted both a parent and staff survey, an online engagement open to the entire community, distributed our Reopening Plan to the community and posted it online, and created a section of the website dedicated to providing up-to-date information on reopening our schools.
To respond to inquiries raised by our community, we have created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document. It has been posted to our website and will be continually updated as new information becomes available and/or modifications to plans are necessary. This document provides detailed information on health and safety protocols as well as the instructional models and what school will look like for students when they return in September.
I want to personally thank the many people who helped put these plans together, those who are working on upgrades to our facilities, our partners in government whose continued support we’ll need, and to the Board of Education for their support of the extraordinary efforts and investments needed to minimize risk to the greatest extent possible, while maximizing the instructional program for students despite the circumstances.
Reopening schools will take an extraordinary commitment from the entire Syosset learning community - from our teachers and leaders in each of the buildings who will be with our young people every day, to our families whose will make decisions that protect the entire community, to our students who will have to adapt to an unfamiliar environment. To do this successfully, it will literally need each of us to be our most patient, thoughtful and cautious selves daily.
At his press conference today, the Governor said, “If anyone can open schools, we can open schools.” To which I would add: if there’s any place that can do it, it’s Syosset.
Stay healthy, stay safe, stay strong. #Syostrong
PS - As a reminder, we have extended the deadline for parents/guardians to request an all-virtual learning experience until the end of the day on August 12 by clicking this link: https://www.familyid.com/programs/student-accommodations-for-virtual-learning
Also, if you do not intend to have your child ride the bus, please submit this form by August 12 (please submit one form per child): https://www.familyid.com/syosset-central-school-district/transportation-information-please-review
August 6, 2020
Dear Syosset Community,
I hope you are all well and safe after the storm that hit earlier this week. I know there are many in our community without power. Please remember that the District is providing meals for students at no charge during the summer. Meals will be available tomorrow morning for pick up at the high school, 70 South Woods Road, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. for anyone in need.
The Governor has not yet made an announcement regarding the reopening of schools in September. He originally indicated he would make that announcement sometime between August 1st and 7th, so we are anticipating it to come tomorrow. Once the announcement is made, we will provide additional information to the community. In the meantime, I wanted to provide a few quick updates.
We have received several questions from the community regarding our reopening plans. In response, we have put together a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, which will be sent out once we have additional information from the Governor (hopefully tomorrow). The document contains more detailed information on the instructional models as well as health and safety protocols.
We recognize that many parents need additional information before making a decision on whether to opt in to the fully virtual learning model, and many have been without internet access this week. Therefore, we will be extending the deadline to August 12 to opt in to the fully virtual model.
- Asmita Mittal, a rising junior at SHS, recently founded a youth organization named Teens Teach Technology, with the goal of teaching the basics of technology, such as social media, daily applications, and entertainment, to the older adult population. With a team of approx. 20 members across multiple states, the organization has established partnerships with local libraries and is looking to grow even more. I’m so proud of the way these teens are using their skills to help people cope with the challenges of moving our lives on-line during the pandemic.
- Kimberly Saltsberg, an incoming SHS 9th grader, has been named the New York Islanders Community Star of the Week in recognition of her fundraising efforts on behalf of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Although Kimberly had to improvise to raise money during a pandemic, her creative efforts resulted in $11,000 raised for the charity.
Again, I hope your family fared well in the storm this week. This has been a year with a succession of storms that have tested our resilience. Whatever the Governor decides tomorrow, the fall will be another big challenge. But I’m confident that together, we will be equal to whatever lies ahead.