COVID-19 Information & Updates

Updates From the Superintendent

July 23, 2020

I hope this finds you and your families well and enjoying the summer. I wanted to provide an update on our plans for re-opening our schools in September.

Last week we received guidance from the NYS Department of Health and from the NYS Education Department (NYSED).  We are also working with the Putnam County Department of Health and are in contact with districts in our region to share information that can assist in our planning. While we have actively been working on developing our plans since early June, these documents and our conversations with local school districts and others provides us with both clarity and flexibility as we continue to develop a plan for Carmel Schools.

At the July 21, 2020 Board of Education meeting, our Re-Entry Core team members presented information about the responsibilities and objectives for each area we are addressing in our plan.  Please take a few minutes to review this presentation on our website.  You may also be interested in viewing the video of that portion of the meeting. We have also provided a tool for our community to submit questions.

As we approach the July 31 deadline to submit our re-entry plan to NYSED please know our teams are working diligently so that students and staff may return to our schools in some capacity this Fall.  We do this with these guiding principles in the forefront:

  • Ensure the safety and well-being of all students and employees.
  • Promote equity and accessibility to learning for all students.
  • Provide instructional delivery systems to meet the needs of all students. The plan will include continuity of learning, alignment with NYS standards and regular substantive interaction between teachers and students.
  • Foster positive relationships and interactions

By July 31 we will post on our website, information that outlines our plan, protocols and procedures.  Our plans are intentionally designed for flexibility in the event we must quickly pivot from one of the three models to another based upon infection rates in our County/region (the 3 models include all students returning, all students distance learning, and a hybrid of in-school and distance learning).

In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to prepare your children for September.

  • Teach and model for your children how to maintain social distancing and use of a face covering outside the home.
  • Emphasize proper hygiene with your children including washing hands and avoiding touching their faces.
  • Purchase or make a personalized face covering for your child. The District will provide face coverings, if needed.
  • Try to be as positive as possible about back-to-school. The current situation is difficult in so many ways and we will continue to face challenges.
  • Continue to check this website for information and updates.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns
Eric M. Stark
Acting Superintendent of Schools

 Letter in pdf Format 

July 13, 2020

I hope you and your families are enjoying the summer despite the uncertainties that continue as a result of COVID-19. We understand that parents are awaiting information regarding re-entry to schools for the 2020-2021 school year. Please know that we have been working tirelessly to develop solutions for several possible scenarios in order to provide an educational environment that is safe and conducive to the high level of learning that our families expect.

While we are unable to provide specifics at this time, this message is intended to give you information on what has been done thus far.

Developing Scenarios
To begin planning, we are looking at three possible scenarios:

  1. Full reopening of schools with health and safety measures in place
  2. Full Distance Learning
  3. A “hybrid” plan, wherein some students are present in a building at one time, while other learn remotely

Formation of Re-Entry Teams
In early June we formed Re-Entry Teams for various areas. These teams were initially comprised of administrators and teachers. Recently, we have added parents and Board of Education members. The teams began working to discuss questions and gather thoughts on the three possible scenarios. Team work will continue throughout the summer.

Our teams include:

  • Board of Education Policy
  • Communication
  • Facilities
  • Finance
  • Food Services
  • Health Services
  • Instruction
  • Support Services
  • Technology
  • Transportation
  • Athletics & Co-Curricular Activities

Parent and Staff Surveys
Clearly, there are many variables in the planning process. We recognize there may be students at every grade level that may not return. We also want to plan for staff members who are unable to work in person. To gauge the level of comfort we conducted two surveys in late June—one for parents and one for staff. Parents were asked about each of the three scenarios. We are currently reviewing the results, which will be shared with our community soon.

Staff were surveyed to gauge the comfort level of returning to school in either the full reopening or the hybrid models. We are also currently reviewing the results.

PNW BOCES is conducting a Thoughtexchange survey to get feedback from parents from 12 districts in our local area including Carmel, Mahopac, and Brewster. The purpose of the survey is to gain an understanding of what is important about re-entry to those in our community and throughout the region. We expect this will provide our district the opportunity to align our plans with others in the region wherever it makes sense.

Health and Safety
As part of our in-school protocols we have proactively ordered enough PPE (masks and gloves) for students and staff for 100 days of school. Additionally, we are continuing to review our cleaning protocols.

Next Steps
Please understand that plans will continue to change and evolve as more information becomes available. In the next few days we expect to review guidance from Governor Cuomo, from the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and from the New York State Department of Health. This guidance will help us solidify our re-entry plans. Plans are due to NYSED on July 31. Governor Cuomo is expected to make a decision about the reopening of schools in early August.

We will develop detailed plans for every function within our schools and will communicate specific details in order to present a clear picture of what school will look like as we reopen.

In the meantime, we thank you for your patience and support as we work through this challenging situation. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me.
Eric M. Stark
Acting Superintendent of Schools