Dear Pine Bush Central School District Community,
Please be aware that we have been busily preparing for the return to hybrid in-person learning that is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 19th. We have spent the last week consulting with Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhaus, the Orange County Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Gelman, as well as various other contacts, in order to determine the possibility of welcoming students back.
There are many variables that need to be considered in order to move forward with our plan including the following:
- The COVID positivity rate in Orange County. Although many of you reside in Ulster or Sullivan, all of our school buildings are located in Orange County so that is the rate we must analyze.
- The COVID positivity rate in the actual Pine Bush community that is determined by parents and staff self-reporting positive cases.
- Our capability to staff our classrooms while still providing an all-virtual option to families that prefer that option.
- The ability of Birnie Bus to transport students based on the limitations set up by the NYS Department of Education that require us to limit the number of students on a bus due to social distancing.
At this time, we believe we have addressed these variables and that re-opening to in-person hybrid learning is a strong possibility. This presumption is closely aligned with the re-opening plan that we had for Nov. 7th. If you recall, some elementary students in grades PreK-6 and special education classes were attending hybrid in-person classes and we were about to bring back students in grades 7-12. Parents had indicated their preference for all-virtual or hybrid classes, transportation had been arranged and bus stops, pick-up times and drop-off times had been emailed to parents.
So that we make our planning process more efficient, we will not be sending surveys to all parents at this time. If you would like to make a change to your child’s plan, please email the building principal by Tuesday, Jan. 12th. They will examine every request on a case-by-case basis. While we will try to make every effort to accommodate changes, this may not always be possible due to the following constraints: balancing classes in the A/B hybrid schedule, limiting the number of students that can be physically present in classrooms and/or buses, and class and grade level enrollment numbers.
As we have learned multiple times during the pandemic, nothing is set in stone and situations change on a dime! However, it is important to communicate intentions so you can begin to prepare for if/when this happens. Please be aware that we will stay on top of all of the variables and communicate any new information and/or necessary changes in a timely manner.
Some other important information that all of our staff and families need to know is that last fall, Governor Cuomo implemented the NYS Cluster Action Initiative that designates certain geographic areas in the State “Yellow, Orange or Red Zones” based on certain target metrics related to the COVID positivity and hospitalization rates. So simultaneously, we have been preparing for the possibility of the PBCSD being part of an orange or red zone in the future. If that occurs, we will be required to administer COVID tests to 20% of in-person students, faculty and staff if we are designated in an orange zone, and 30% if we are in a red zone over the course of a month in order to continue with in-person instruction. It is quite possible that this could impact individual buildings, the entire north or south end, or the entire district due to the way our district is organized. Below please find important information regarding COVID testing:
- Participation by students in testing will be solely on a voluntary basis secured by a parent consent form.
- Students may also be tested privately at their own medical provider and provide a copy of the results to the school nurse.
- Testing will be done on school district property via appointment only.
- The test results will only be used by the district for public health purposes as required by the NYSDOH.
- If test results are positive, families will be notified and contact tracing will be conducted by our school nurses and shared with the OCDOH as per established procedures.
In order to determine the size of our testing pool, we are asking parents of students registered for hybrid, in-person learning to take our online survey. Only parents of students registered for hybrid in-person learning should take the survey. Please complete the survey below for each child attending.
Please stay tuned for further communication regarding the Jan. 19 re-opening plan. Transportation information will be re-sent to students’ PBCSD email addresses on Thursday, Jan. 14, so be on the lookout for them. Thank you for being patient during this challenging time. Please call or email building principals, myself or Amy Brockner with any questions or concerns.
Acting Superintendent of Schools