Reopening Update: Hybrid Plan, Prioritizing Technology and More

Dr. Cheryl Champ

Dear Pelham Parents and Guardians,

I hope that this email finds you well and that you are enjoying the last few days of summer. Throughout the month of August, our District staff have worked tirelessly to prepare our schools and ourselves for the year ahead. With that in mind, I am pleased to share that as of today we are proceeding with the Hybrid Model when we open school to students next week. 

As a reminder, 

  • Students in Cohort A will report for in-person learning on Thursday, September 10, which will be a noon dismissal for grades 1-5.
  • Students in Cohort B will be in school for a full day on Friday, September 11. 
  • Kindergarten students will be scheduled for transition days on the first four days of school and will officially begin classes on September 16. 

Complete Cohort Calendars, which can be synced to your personal digital calendar, are available on the District Reopening webpage under the Hybrid tab. The calendars also indicate the specific Wednesdays that will be noon dismissals for all students. Additionally, you should have received school-specific information about arrival, dismissal and other procedures for the year ahead from your respective school principal. This information is also available as part of the Parent/Student Handbook on the District website

As we continue to prepare for the year ahead, I wanted to also update the community about two potential technology issues that are affecting our region and state which may present additional challenges at the beginning of the school year as well as other information pertinent to the start of school. 

Chromebooks & Tech Survey

Recognizing the increased need for personal devices, in June, the District ordered approximately 950 Google Chromebooks so that all students in grades 3-12 would have access to a district-issued device. This would also provide additional devices for K-2 families who may be in need during the school year. Unfortunately, instead of receiving these Chromebooks in August as expected, we recently learned that the shipment has been delayed until late September or early October. 

At this time, we are able to supply Chromebooks to all students in grades 6-12 and have a number of additional devices available at each elementary school. We are however seeking to prioritize the requests of K-5 families and ask that you please complete this brief Technology Needs Survey so that we can best meet the needs of our students during the first few weeks of school. Please note that this survey should only be completed by K-5 families who are in need of technology for their children and we ask that you complete the survey by 5pm on Friday, September 4 for each of your children.


Regional Internet Capacity

This summer, the District completed a significant upgrade of our wireless internet systems to expand bandwidth and install additional access points necessary to support the increased streaming capability we will need for the upcoming year. While that project is complete thanks to the incredible work of our technology and facilities departments, we recently received notice from the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center (LHRIC) that BOCES, which supplies internet to our District and many others in the area may not have sufficient capacity to meet the cumulative increased demands across the region if all districts are streaming at the same time. BOCES is working to upgrade its capacity with a target date of late September for completion. While we can not say for sure whether this will be an issue, it is nonetheless important for parents and students to be aware of these constraints as we begin the year in the hybrid model. It is important that we all remain patient and flexible as we navigate these issues together. 

Travel Quarantine

Finally, I want to remind families that if your children have traveled to a state/area on New York's Travel Advisory list, they must quarantine for 14 days after returning. If that quarantine period extends beyond the start of school, your children can not attend in person classes until the quarantine period has ended, and must instead learn remotely for the beginning of school. No student will be penalized for missing in-person learning as a result of being under quarantine and we will work with students to make sure they do not suffer academically as a result. 

We are fortunate that our community and our region of the country have done a remarkable job slowing the spread of COVID-19 to a point where reopening schools is even feasible. In order for these plans to work, we must all continue to do our part. That means:

  • Practice physical distancing when in public and help your children understand why it is important to do so

  • Wear a face covering when physical distancing is not possible -- any one of us can unknowingly be spreading this virus

  • Quarantine/self isolate  for 14 days if you are instructed to do so by the Department of Health 

  • Keep your child home from school if they are ill and/or are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19

If we do these things and work together, I know that this school year will be successful for us all. I want to extend my sincerest thank you to our staff, who have relentlessly worked to make opening school a reality. We look forward to finally seeing our students in our schools just 9 days from now. 

Sincerely,

Dr. Champ

  • #Colonial
  • #Hutchinson
  • PMHS
  • #PMS
  • #Prospect
  • #Reopening
  • #Siwanoy
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