Good afternoon Pine Bush families and staff,
I’m calling about our plans to Return to More Learning slated to begin this week.
The new guidelines from the NYS Department of Health indicate that in areas of high transmission of the coronavirus, middle school and high school students must maintain 6 feet of social distancing everywhere in the school. The state has removed barriers as an acceptable alternative to that 6 feet recommendation. Therefore, we have to put the brakes on our plans to expand to four days of instruction in our middle schools and high school. All middle school and high school students will have to remain on the schedule they were following last week, until or unless the Orange County transmission rate drops to acceptable levels.
Our expansion of in-person instruction from two days to four days in our elementary schools, however, will proceed as planned. The New York State guidance document allows three feet of distancing for elementary-aged students. If your child attends an elementary school and has changed teachers in our new instructional format, please be reminded that before they can join their new class tomorrow morning, they will need to accept the invitation to that new Google classroom. You should see that invite when your child logs into their Google account.
Although Orange County officials originally indicated they would provide additional clarifications today, they are now projecting that will come tomorrow. Since the county has never been more lenient than the state, we made the decision earlier today to pause our plans at the middle schools and the high school and to proceed with our plans at the elementary level.
While we are pausing our plans at the secondary level, please know that the shift to more asynchronous instruction on Mobile Mondays will remain. Teachers have been very clear about the need for additional planning time from our recent survey, and we want to fully support that request.
If and when we are able to activate four-days of learning in our middle and high schools will depend on the rate of infection and the rate of positive tests dropping in Orange County. Reducing those metrics will also be required if we are ever able to expand instruction from four days to five. I want to remind everyone that you can contribute to that reduction by getting vaccinated as soon as you can, avoiding gatherings, and continuing to follow the guidelines for the general public to wear masks and socially distance.
I know that many parents changed their schedules in anticipation of our transition this week. I’m so sorry that the new state guidelines issued last Friday night has left us little choice but to delay being able to fully implement it.
Finally, please know that the new bus numbers and stops will remain in place, but for now, with fewer middle school and high school students boarding the buses, the pick-up and drop off times for secondary students are likely to now be incorrect. We simply can’t get that fixed by Tuesday, so I ask for your patience.
Have a great rest of your Sunday!
Tim O. Mains, Pine Bush Superintendent