Dear Pelham Parents and Community Members,
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to progress in our region, we are unfortunately writing to inform you that a 12th-grade student in the high school has tested positive for COVID-19. The student was in school last week, but did not become symptomatic until Thursday.
This case and the one previously communicated to you on Saturday are believed to be connected to a family gathering that occurred last Sunday. After consulting legal counsel, we are able to share that the parent's children discussed in yesterday's email are in kindergarten and fifth grade at Hutchinson School and 6th grade at Pelham Middle School. All members of these families are in quarantine at this time. Students and staff who were in direct contact with the high school student are receiving additional notification from their respective principal.
Based on discussions with the New York State Department of Health, we expect positive cases to increase county-wide, including in other school districts. In light of the anticipated spread both locally and county-wide, the Pelham Public Schools will be closed from March 16 through April 10. Schools are tentatively planned to re-open April 13.
The health department is unable to provide timely notification of positive results to schools at this point, so it is crucial that you continue to notify your school principal of any confirmed positive tests or requests to quarantine. This information allows us to make notifications to those who may have been in direct contact and at risk of exposure. As the frequency of positive tests is likely to increase, our priority will be shifting to informing those most directly impacted as opposed to the broader community.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, we will continue our preparations for Distance Learning opportunities, which we anticipate will begin on Wednesday. We will share more information about this plan by Tuesday evening. These two days will also allow us time to determine what implications this long-term closure may have on our school calendar.
During this closure, it remains essential, whether you have been directed to quarantine or not, that parents, students, and community members practice social distancing and preventative hygiene. This means:
Stay home if you are feeling sick, and contact your doctor if you are concerned about your symptoms.
Avoid gathering in groups.
Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, and remind your children to do the same.
Disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly.
I'd like every parent, student, and community member to know that I understand your concerns, feel your frustrations, and know that these times are unprecedented. I am appreciative of everyone who has reached out via email in the past few weeks. Please know that I am reading every one of them and responding as time permits.
Please continue to keep those affected by this disease in your thoughts.
Cheryl H. Champ
Superintendent of Schools