Letter to Families June 2021

Dear Parents, Guardians and Caregivers,

It’s hard to believe that the end of the school year is right around the corner.  While it has certainly been a challenging, unpredictable year and one like we’ve never experienced before, all indications are that things are moving in the right direction and toward normalcy.

As things currently stand, we are planning for a full return to in-person school in September with all our schools and classrooms open to how they were prior to the pandemic.  That said, many of you have asked if virtual school will be an option next year since some students had a positive experience with virtual learning.  While the New York State Education Department currently does not allow for a virtual option outside of the pandemic, state leaders are discussing this and exploring options regarding virtual learning.  If virtual classes become an option for the next school year, we will certainly explore those possibilities for students who prefer online learning.

However, before we begin the planning for the 2021-2022 school year, there some things that we are doing to ramp up on-site, in-person opportunities for the remainder of this school year.  You might be wondering why we would try to do this at this point in the school year.  The advantages of students coming into school, even with only a month remaining, extend far beyond teaching and learning.  Children need socialization and connectivity, and most students do benefit from in-person support, peer collaboration, intervention, and social emotional learning even this late in the school year.  We miss our students and want them to know that we are still here for them.

Thank you to all the families who completed the recent survey about your schooling preferences for the remainder of the year.  About half of you who responded expressed a desire for your children to attend school in-person.  While we would like to bring all students back in-person, unfortunately, there are currently too many obstacles and challenges with transportation, staffing shortages, scheduling, as well as classroom capacity and limitations due to COVID-19 safety requirements, which make bringing everyone back at once unrealistic.   But I am pleased to tell you that there are some things we can and are going to do so that more students can attend on-site.   Our goal is to get as many students as possible, who are on a hybrid or learning pod waitlist, into a seat.  We are also looking to create additional spaces and opportunities so more students can attend in-person.   Here are some of the things in process:

  • We have taken inventory of all of our learning pods and hybrid classrooms to identify open seats and will fill them with students who are on a waitlist.

  • Teachers of students who are currently attending all virtual classes, are exploring options that would allow more students to attend in-person at specific times.    This might require creative scheduling including staggered start times or coming in-person after a virtual start to the day.  Because of bus driver shortages and challenges with transportation schedules, we are looking at times that are outside the normal bus schedules.

  • The high school team is exploring options that might allow for designated groups of students to come on campus for some in-person opportunities. This might also require some unique scheduling.

Ensuring equity and an anti-racist approach will serve as guidance for placement decisions. Since the plans will be unique to each school, your child’s teacher or principal will contact you regarding any in-person options available effective June 1.  Attending in-person will not be a requirement for any student.

We will continue to follow all COVID guidelines and requirements. While the mask mandate has been lifted for vaccinated New Yorkers, please remember that they are still required to be worn in schools.  We appreciate everyone’s cooperation with the mask mandate in schools.  It serves to keep all safe.

Like most of you, we all want our students back in school and I am sorry that we are not able to make that happen this school year.   We will, however, do all that we can to make the most of the last month of school and then look forward to a new school year in which we all come back together.  

Attached is a letter from your child’s school principal with additional updates, end-of-the-year reminders and events.

Thank you for being our partner in your child’s education.  I appreciate your continued patience, support and understanding and look forward to seeing more faces in our schools very soon.  As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to your child’s school for assistance. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Aaron T. Bochniak
Interim Superintendent of Schools



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