Dear Pelham Parents and Community Members,
Yesterday, the District submitted plans for reopening the Pelham Public Schools to the New York State Education Department. These plans include information about how our District would approach a return to full in-person instruction, distance learning, and a hybrid of the two.
Throughout the summer, subcommittees of principals, curriculum directors, assistant superintendents, teachers, members of our facilities team and the district physician worked tirelessly to study various aspects of our reopening plans with an emphasis on health and safety and providing a robust education to our students regardless of how instruction occurs during the upcoming school year. I am extremely grateful for their efforts and the countless hours spent on these complex issues.
These plans have been posted to the District website and were also presented at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, which is available for viewing along with the presentation slides from the meeting. Additionally, a number of FAQs have been posted along with the plans. Some highlights of these plans are listed at the bottom of this email. We encourage you to review this information.
Though we have submitted our plan to the state, the District is continuing to refine and adapt our reopening plans. We are currently planning accommodations for students who may not be able to return to school due to their health or the health of those in their immediate household. However, the District does not yet know if the Governor will allow or require districts to provide choice to all parents regarding whether their children will return to in-person instruction. To assist with planning for these scenarios, we are seeking additional information from families. We ask that you please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey by 5pm on Wednesday, August 5. Please be sure to read the survey instructions carefully.
In mid-August, the District will make a determination as to which plan we will enact to start the school year. Cohort assignments for a hybrid model will be sent in mid-August so that parents/guardians can plan in the event that it is enacted at any point. Additional school-specific information will be shared at a later date. It is important to understand that the District may shift plans prior to the start of school, or after school begins depending on a number of factors, including changes to the regional infection rate or local conditions. These changes will be communicated as they develop. We also will be routinely assessing how our plans are working and making adjustments as needed throughout the year.
We are hopeful that when September 8 comes, our students and teachers will finally be able to connect in person and we can begin to deliver the robust educational program we all have come to expect from our schools. With that said, we must all understand that whichever plan is in effect, the 2020-21 school year will pose significant challenges for all involved. Our teachers, administrators, facilities team and support staff will continue to do our best to keep our students healthy, safe and learning, and now, more than ever we will need the support and collaboration of families. It is only by working together that we can rise to meet the challenges this pandemic has brought, and I know that the Pelham community is up to the task.
Cheryl H. Champ
Superintendent of Schools
Visit the In-Person Learning Plan webpage for more information
The District has added a number of health and safety precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 if/when students return for in-person instruction. These include:
- All students and staff must wear masks when in school
- Breaks will be scheduled periodically so that students can remove their masks. Students will be required to maintain 6 ft. distancing during mask breaks
- The District is also purchasing portable barriers for all students to provide additional protection
- Start and dismissal times will be staggered to prevent large gatherings (school-specific plans will be communicated by your school principal)
- Parents must provide documentation that their children do not have a temperature greater than 100 degrees F or symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entering school each day
- Each school building/District facility will be cleaned regularly in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and New York State Department of Health Guidance
- Classrooms will be rearranged to the extent possible to maximize space between desks/work areas
- Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes will be available in all classrooms
- Physical barriers are being added to better protect students and staff in designated areas
- Movement in hallways will be streamlined in one direction to the extent possible with arrows indicating the correct direction
- The District will seek to maximize the use of outdoor space, weather permitting
- Large group activities/field trips will be postponed/cancelled or held virtually
Visit the Distance Learning Learning Plan webpage for more information
Both the K-5 and Secondary Reopening committees sought to create a more robust Distance Learning plan that builds on and improves last year's experience during the emergency building closure. This includes:
- Increased contact time between students and their teachers
- More direct instruction to students, especially at the elementary level
- Schedule that closely mirrors a "regular school day" with students engaged in learning from 8:30am - 2:30pm every day
- Increased feedback from teachers and more accountability for students
- Breaks are built in to the day to balance the need for instruction with the amount of screen time for students
- Dedicated time for intervention, specials and academy
- Start and end times similar across elementary, middle and high schools.
Visit the Hybrid Learning Learning Plan webpage for more information
A hybrid model would reduce the number of students in a school at one time to allow for better physical distancing. This plan was developed based on feedback from teachers and parents and, importantly, ensures that all students have in-person instruction from their teachers each week. In this plan:
- Students will be divided into two cohorts (A & B), approximately half in each
- Cohort A will be in school on Mondays and Tuesdays
- Cohort B will be in school Thursdays and Fridays
- Each cohort will rotate being in school on Wednesdays on a week-by-week basis
- Students who are not in school on their respective days will participate in their classes from home
- Each classroom has been equipped with a 4K document camera that can livestream classes and learning activities to the group that is at home
- Lesson materials will be available to both in person and remote students using Google Classroom at all levels
- Schools will be cleaned and sanitized in between cohorts in the afternoon/evening
- Logistics and safety procedures from the in-person plan will be in effect
Please understand that due to the complexity of assigning balanced cohorts, the District is not able to consider individual cohort placement requests.