To: NY State Education Department & Department of Health
From: Tim O. Mains, Superintendent of Schools
Re: Our Return to Learn Plan
Date: July 31, 2020
Attached you will find our current “Return to Learn” (RtL) plan that will guide the re-opening for our seven schools in the Pine Bush Central School District this September. A Return to Learn Task Force engaging multiple stakeholders has worked to craft this plan over the past month and a half. As you will see, it emphasizes safety, because there is a great concern that asymptomatic children could well put our teachers and other staff in danger without strong and clear safety protocols. A survey completed by 80% of our staff (that we feel confident allows us to generalize to that entire population) told us that 60% of them were in an age category or had a medical condition that would place them at risk for COVID-19 or they had someone in their household who met those criteria. That amplifies the need for us to do all we can to protect a potentially vulnerable staff and their families. We also have many students with underlying conditions that make them equally vulnerable to this disease.
Please understand we are treating this as a living document. We feel strongly that we will need to remain flexible and make adjustments based on feedback from our stakeholders – both in advance of our opening in September and especially after we begin instruction. So the Return to Learn Task Force and its three sub teams: Virtual, Hybrid, and Logistics, will continue to meet in order to answer new questions that arise and attempt to resolve challenges as they present themselves.
In Pine Bush, we endeavor to put students at the very center for all of our decisions. In order to serve the range of interests, learning styles, and readiness levels among students, the concept of choice plays out in a variety of ways in our classrooms. That concept of choice also plays out in this plan. A significant percentage or parents (20-25% depending on the age of their child) told us they did not feel safe sending their children to school, so we are offering an all-virtual option to any family that requests it. The high school will also begin all virtual and will remain so until we can resolve a number of logistical challenges that interfered with our top priority of safety.
As we make changes and adjustments to this plan, we will be sure to alert you and our community. We are confident that we will be able to resume school this fall with an even better plan than we had last spring. Ultimately, we recognize that the decision to reopen or to close schools will be made by our state and/or local governmental leaders.