July 17, 2020 IRCSD COVID-19 Update: A Message from Superintendent Dobmeier

July 17, 2020 IRCSD COVID-19 Update: A Message from Superintendent Dobmeier
Posted on 07/17/2020
July 17, 2020 IRCSD COVID-19 Update: A Message from Superintendent Dobmeier

Dear Indian River Community,

I hope this finds you well during these times of great uncertainty. My purpose today is to provide an update regarding IRCSD’s next steps along the difficult, yet important "reopening of schools" path.

On Monday, July 13, 2020, Governor Cuomo shared the plan for reopening NYS schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The decision to reopen is based on a formula that uses current COVID-19 data. The reopening formula only provides for areas in Phase IV with a daily infection rate of 5% or lower over a 14 day average. (Our region remains well below this measure despite the recent increase in cases in other areas of Jefferson County.) After the Governor’s decision to open a school is made (anticipated in early August), the direction could be reversed if a spike occurs and the daily infection rate is above 9% over a seven day average.

Additionally, the following resources have been shared to assist schools with planning for reopening in the fall:

These documents prioritize efforts to return all students to instruction SAFELY and detail many of the requirements needed to develop plans for in-person, remote/virtual, and hybrid teaching/learning. Highlights of this guidance include:

  • Screening - Mandatory health screenings must take place including temperature checks of students, staff, and visitors. If a person presents with a temp of 100 °F, the person will be denied entry or sent to a designated area for pickup. The district must use a daily screening questionnaire for faculty and staff and periodically for students.

  • Masks and protective equipment (PPE) - Appropriate PPE (face coverings) is strongly recommended to be worn by all individuals at all times, but is required to be worn any time or place that individuals cannot maintain appropriate social distancing. This includes school buses and at any time on school grounds or at a school function.

  • Social Distancing - All individuals must use social distancing (6 feet in all directions) and/or approved physical barriers. Special provisions and requirements will also be in place for music, athletics, and other activities.

Our goal is clear: we will create plans that allow for teaching and learning to continue, though the actual “place” of instruction will not be finalized by the Governor until around August 7th. Our district Safety Committee and several subcommittees will continue to meet over the coming weeks to dissect the various guidance documents and apply findings to our unique facilities and district makeup. During these stakeholder meetings, the results of the recent parent and staff surveys will be shared and processed. (The survey results will be posted online soon.) The final plan will include protocols for health and safety, nutrition, facilities, transportation, social emotional well-being, engagement/attendance, technology and connectivity, teaching and learning, special education, English as a second language, and staffing. Again, this work will focus on keeping our students, staff, and community engaged in learning while remaining safe.

In order for Indian River Central School District to successfully meet the needs of our students during these trying times, we need to keep the lines of communication open, share fears and frustrations, collaborate with people from a variety of sources and backgrounds, and remain focused on what is best for kids. Our plans will need to be flexible where possible and include procedures for the three options mentioned earlier: in-person instruction, remote/virtual learning, and even a blended hybrid model - all within the specified NYSED and DOH guidance.

To this end, we will continue to post updates to our school website (www.ircsd.org) and communicate via social media and email to the school community. It’s also likely you will see additional requests for input via short surveys and/or similar electronic input. Additionally, please stay on the lookout for additional information regarding a new means of school communication called ParentSquare, soon to be rolled out to our entire school community.

Again, thank you for your participation in our surveys as well as your ongoing support during these difficult times. Please stay safe, stay healthy, and remain WarriorStrong!

With great respect,

Mary Anne Dobmeier, Superintendent

 

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