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District Health Update and FAQs, Part 4!

 

Good Afternoon,

 

With the absence of our student information system, Realtime, I am not able to send out a mass email or text message to all parents regarding our weekly health report and updated FAQs. Realtime is still working on fixing a massive system failure, and all the district can do at this time is wait for the restoration process to be completed. I apologize for this and assure you that when we return from November break, we will be fully functional again!

 

This week, we had one additional positive COVID case at the Pre-K. Since the student has been out for an extended period of time prior to his positive results, there were no exposed individuals during his contagious period. Therefore, no quarantines were required. This brings our total number of district COVID cases up to 18 for September and October of this year.

 

On another note, if your child is not vaccinated and will be traveling out of the immediate state area (outside of NY, CT, DE, or PA) on vacation, please inform the school office. There will be a quarantine period where they will have to participate in virtual instruction. Please refer to the quarantine charts in the appendix of the “Safe Return Plan” here

 

I want to wish all of the staff and students (and parents!) a very safe and enjoyable Halloween on Sunday and a restful November break. We will continue to keep our Parent Communication Form open to everyone, and welcome any questions or concerns you may have for us. For now, please enjoy our FAQs, Part 4 below!

 

Be Well,

 

Dr. Daniela Riser

Acting Superintendent of Schools

 

Para leer esta carta en otro idioma, haga clic en el botón de traducción de Google en la parte superior de la página.

 

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Parent Frequently Asked Questions, Part 4

 

Q: Friday pizza lunch is a great idea, but what happened to offering local pizzeria pizza? I ask because my son informed me that it’s Domino’s, the pieces are small, and students are only allowed one slice.

 

A: We have reached out to a number of local food establishments in town to accommodate our lunch needs for pizza on Friday. Because of the large orders that were needed for each school, none were able to fill the orders (even when asking all of the pizzerias to break up the purchases by school.) Dominoes was the only vendor who has been able to fill these orders for us. As time passes, we may be able to offer additional slices for student purchase. However, with the limited number of staff in the cafeteria, it is not a feasible option right now. Please note that when pizza is served to students, it comes with a variety of other snacks and juice to make it a complete meal. Also, parents are welcome to supplement their child’s lunches with additional snacks of their choosing or include an additional lunch for them if they are still hungry after their supplied meal.

 

Q: Can the high school offer pizza purchases on Fridays because as high school teenagers & athletic kids 1 slice is not enough for them & they can’t go back for 2nd one? 

 

A: As stated previously, we may be able to offer additional slices for student purchase at a later date. However, with the limited number of staff in the cafeteria, it is not a feasible option right now. Please note that when pizza is served to students, it comes with a variety of other snacks and juice to make it a complete meal. Also, parents are welcome to supplement their child’s lunches with additional snacks of their choosing or include an additional lunch for them if they are still hungry after their supplied meal.

 

Q: Why are we short substitute teachers? 

 

A: There is a national shortage of substitute teachers in the country right now. The Board of Education realizes this, so they raised the substitute pay rate at our last board meeting. We are also advertising for additional substitute teachers on various social media platforms, to expand our search areas. Please note that our substitute pay is now more than many other districts in the immediate surrounding areas, with a few exceptions. 

 

Q: Why are classroom aides teaching classes when they are unqualified? 

 

A: Classroom aides are not teaching classes in our school district unless they have the proper credentials to do so (substitute certification, teaching certifications, etc). We do have some long-term substitutes, with the proper credentials, that are filling in for our leave positions while we look for long term replacement teachers (certificated in the subject area being taught), if needed.

 

Q: Students in many grades were administered the Start Strong Assessments in September.  Will the District be releasing these results to parents and will there be a report of the results based on grade level and/or IEP status?  These assessments can provide important insight into the learning loss experienced by different groups of students as a result of school closures.

 

A: We have just received the student data for the Start Strong assessments which were administered to students at the end of September. Right now, the state has not released individual student files to distribute to parents. Our district is currently working on extracting student files from the Pearson online test management system in order to provide the district parents with individual student data on all of these assessments. However, this is a very tedious process that will take a few weeks of processing and uploading to the Parent Portal (will be found under the document section). We will send out notifications once the process is complete. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

 

Q: Why is the school open when there’s Covid cases?

 

A: We have had a relatively low number of COVID cases in our school district over the past two months. I will review an example of the contact tracing process with you, so that you understand what procedures we must follow when a positive case is reported (this is NOT a real case):

  1. A parent of a student produces a positive PCR test indicating that a child has COVID after a school day has concluded. The child was in a classroom the day before and was socially distanced from his classmates and masked the entire time. 
  2. The school principal informs the school nurse and superintendent and contact tracing ensues. The county department of health is called, the case is reported, and a plan for contact tracing is discussed and enacted.
  3. Each child (unvaccinated) that is directly around the positive student is called and put on quarantine. The vaccinated teacher does NOT have to quarantine.
  4. Parents of the quarantined students are informed about the procedure (7 days of quarantine with a negative PCR test on days 5-7 or 10 days of quarantine without a testing option.)
  5. All of the other students in the classroom had no direct contact with the positive case and are resuming the school day as usual the next day. 
  6. All quarantined students are contacted by the teachers and instructed on how to participate in instruction virtually during the time they are quarantined. 

Because of the procedures put in place, there is no need to shut down classes or schools when there are positive COVID cases. To date, there have been NO breakout cases (staff/students getting sick from other positive cases in the schools). Our total number of cases remains relatively low and in-person, full day instruction for each school in the district is able to continue.

 

Q: I heard that our district is receiving American Rescue Plan funds for additional after school and summer classes, mental health services, and HVAC and minor construction projects. Can we find out more information about how that grant is being used?

 

A: Yes. Over next week's break, we will be sharing another article on the sboe.org website highlighting our plan for using the ARP funds in our school district. We will be welcoming feedback from the community on what they would like to see these funds used for, and all community feedback will be taken into consideration when the final plan is submitted to the state. Stay tuned!

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