What Families Can Expect When Schools Reopen

THE BASICS

 

face mask 

MASKS

Students must wear a mask at school. Masks should cover both the mouth and nose.

How to Help Your Children Adapt To Wearing a Mask

 

 

social distancing

PHYSICAL DISTANCE
On Campus and in the Classroom

Keep at least six feet between you and other people whenever possible. Classrooms and public spaces will be reconfigured to ensure distancing.

 COVID Screening icon

SCREENING AT HOME

Students and staff will complete a health screening prior to coming to school. Anyone with a fever of 100.0 F or higher should not go to school.
 Instructions 
Web Form

Updates from the Superintendent

October 7, 2020

Dear Carmel Community: 

Our current plan is that in-person hybrid learning will resume next week as follows: 

Elementary Schools will resume in-person hybrid learning on Tuesday, October 13, 2020. The Cohort schedule remains the same as listed on our online calendar 

  • Tuesday, October 13 – Cohort A attends 
  • Wednesday, October 14 – Cohort A attends 
  • Thursday, October 15 – Cohort B attends 
  • Friday, October 16 – Cohort B attends 

Carmel High School and George Fischer Middle Schoolwill be on remote learning on Tuesday, October 13 and Wednesday, October 14, 2020. In-person hybrid learning will resume on Thursday, October 15, 2020.  The Cohort schedule remains the same as listed on our calendar: 

  • Thursday, October 15 – Cohort B attends 
  • Friday, October 16 – Cohort B attends 

Also, we have had a number of questions regarding contact tracing and notification. Contact tracing is a function of the Putnam County Department of Health. As a reminder, if you are identified as a contact of a person who tested positive, you will receive a call from a contact tracer. For such calls, your caller ID may read NYS Contact Tracing or display a phone number with a 518 area code. Please answer these calls promptly and provide the contact tracers with the information they need (including a valid e-mail address) to protect our school community and families. 

Typically, contact tracing is completed 48 hours from the time ALL contact tracing information has been input into the system by a case investigator.However, it could take longer and is dependent upon the number of contacts that must be notified and whether additional contacts are discovered. 

Once again, thank you for your support during this difficult time.

Sincerely,
Eric M. Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

October 5, 2020

Dear Carmel Community:

Today, we received confirmation that an individual with COVID-19 was at George Fischer Middle School while infectious (this is in addition to the individual from Carmel High School as was communicated in my letter of October 3). Again, by law, we must maintain this person’s confidentiality, which prevents us from further identifying the individual and his/her reason for being in the school. We trust, however, that families will practice one of Carmel’s 6Cs—Compassion for others as we work through this difficult situation.

We are working collaboratively with the Putnam County Department of Health (DOH) to identify any students and staff who may have been exposed. The exposed individuals must quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure date. We will take the following actions:

  • Out of an abundance of caution, all Carmel Schools will be closed through Friday, October 9, 2020. This includes Kent Primary School, Kent Elementary School, Matthew Paterson Elementary School, George Fischer Middle School and Carmel High School.
  • All students will be on Remote Learning through Friday, October 9.
  • There will be no interscholastic athletics through Friday, October 9.
  • Following Putnam County DOH and CDC guidelines, all classrooms are cleaned and disinfected every day when students are in the buildings.
  • Enhanced cleaning will take place at Carmel High School and George Fischer Middle School in rooms where the infected individuals were known to be. This cleaning involves increased attention to all surfaces, walls, and doors.
  • The district will work with the Putnam County DOH to trace and notify contacts of the infected individuals. The DOH will notify those who need to quarantine.

The district provides contact information to the Putnam County DOH. The Putnam County DOH has a contact tracing system in place for Putnam County when there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. They work to identify those who have been in close or proximal contact with the positive person. Close contact means being within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for more than 10 minutes. Proximal contact means being in a room or enclosed space with a positive case for an extended period of time.

If you are identified as a contact of the person who tested positive, you will receive a call from a DOH Contract Tracer. In some cases, it can take several days to complete notifications, which could result in a school closure.

A call from a Contact Tracer may show up on your caller ID as NYS Contact Tracing or display a phone number with a 518 area code. Please answer these calls promptly and provide the Contact Tracers with the information they need to protect our school community and families.

As a reminder, if you believe at any point you may have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should self-quarantine and speak to your healthcare provider. Visit the NY State Find a Test Site Near You page and enter your address to view a list of the nearest testing sites. In addition, if you suspect you are becoming ill, you should stay home. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue, new onset of loss of taste and/or smell, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea. You should consult with your physician for medical advice in specific cases.

Note that in response to my communication regarding COVID-19 exposure at Carmel High School, many families have asked about contract tracing and attendance protocols.  This Pre-K to Grade 12 COVID-19 Toolkit  provides answers to many of these questions. In addition, we have added some questions to our Return to Learn plan under the FAQs for Health & Safety. Please take a few minutes to review this information

Thank you for your understanding and patience. I will continue to keep you informed regarding this particular situation, as appropriate. For more information on COVID-19, please call (866) 588-0195 or visit the Putnam County Department of Health at Putnam County Department of Health website.

Sincerely,
Eric M. Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

October 4, 2020

Dear Carmel Community:

Based on the letter I sent yesterday regarding a COVID-19 exposure at Carmel High School, I would like to clarify a couple of points.

  • People have asked about cleaning George Fischer Middle School. Please understand that we clean and disinfect every room in every building, every night.  However, when there is a known COVID-19 case, we will perform an enhanced cleaning of all areas of the school where the individual was known to be. This cleaning involves increased attention to all surfaces, walls, and doors.
  • Contract Tracing is done in conjunction with the Putnam County Department of Health (DOH). The DOH will notify those who need to quarantine. In this particular incident, those affected will be notified today (October 4).
  • The October 1, 2020 NYS COVID-19 dashboard for CCSD indicated there were two Kent Primary School students who tested positive for COVID-19. While we must report positive cases, those who tested positive at Kent Primary School were not in the building when they were infectious.  We have been cleared by the DOH to keep Kent Primary School open.  
  • CHS students in the BOCES program will not attend BOCES on Monday, October 5, 2020.

Again, I thank you for your patience and for your feedback. 

Sincerely,
Eric Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

October 3, 2020

Dear Carmel Community:

Today the district was informed that an individual with COVID-19 was at Carmel High School while infectious. By law, we must maintain this person’s confidentiality, which prevents us from further identifying the individual and his/her reason for being in the school.

We are working collaboratively with the Putnam County Department of Health (DOH) to identify any students and staff who may have been exposed. The exposed individuals must quarantine for 14 days from the last exposure date and should be tested for COVID-19 five days after their last exposure. We will take the following actions:

  • Out of an abundance of caution, Carmel Central School District has decided to close Carmel High School and George Fischer Middle School on Monday, October 5, 2020.
  • The high school and middle school will be on Remote Learning on Monday for all students.
  • Carmel High School will be disinfected following Putnam County DOH and CDC guidelines.
  • The district will begin contact tracing and work with the Putnam County DOH to notify contacts.

The Putnam County Department of Health has a contact tracing system in place for Putnam County when there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. They work to identify those who have been in close or proximal contact with the positive person. Close contact means being within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for more than 10 minutes. Proximal contact means being in a room or enclosed space with a positive case for an extended period of time. If you are identified as a contact of the person who tested positive, you will receive a call from a contact tracer. For such calls, your caller ID may read NYS Contact Tracing or display a phone number with a 518 area code. Please answer these calls promptly and provide the Contact Tracers with the information they need to protect our school community and families.

As a reminder, if you believe at any point you may have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should self-quarantine and speak to your healthcare provider. Visit the NY State Find a Test Site Near You page and enter your address to view a list of the nearest testing sites. In addition, if you suspect you are becoming ill, you should stay home. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle pain, fatigue, new onset of loss of taste and/or smell, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea. You should consult with your physician for medical advice in specific cases.

Thank you for your understanding and patience. I will continue to keep you informed regarding this particular situation, as appropriate. For more information on COVID-19, please call (866) 588-0195 or visit the Putnam County Department of Health at Putnam County Department of Health website.

Sincerely,

Eric M. Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

September 18, 2020

Dear Carmel Community:

I hope this finds you and your families well. As a reminder, Carmel Central School District will begin in-person learning on Monday, September 21, 2020.  We look forward to welcoming students back into our schools.

As you are aware, we will follow a hybrid model of learning that includes in-person and remote learning. In this model Cohort A (last names A-L) will attend in-person on Monday/Tuesday and Cohort B (last names M-Z) will attend in-person on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesdays, each cohort attends in-person on a rotating schedule (one week will be Cohort A, and the next will be Cohort B). For the week of September 21, Cohort A will attend on Wednesday, September 23. The calendar can be found on our website (www.carmelschools.org) and  attached  contains the Cohort days through December.

IMPORTANT: ALL students, regardless of whether in the hybrid or remote learning option, MUST complete a Covid-19 screening questionnaire each school day. This is a change from previous communications about the screening due to required NYS reporting procedures. Students MUST use their school email or the response will not be recorded. More information and instructions are attached.

Please know many people throughout the District have worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of students and staff as we return to school. Our administrators from each school building have been in touch with families regarding the new protocols that have been put in place. Please talk to your children about the importance of these protocols for their own protection and the protection of others.

Although there are bound to be hiccups along the way, we appreciate your partnership in working through the many questions and concerns during this unprecedented pandemic. We are committed to providing our students and staff the safest and best learning environment possible.

Sincerely,

Eric M. Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

August 25, 2020

Dear Carmel Community:

I hope this finds you well and enjoying the last few days of summer.  As we approach September, I wanted to provide an update on our reopening plans. Some important changes have occurred in the past few days.

In previous communications, we alerted parents that the first day of school is Tuesday, September 8, 2020 and that we would begin in a hybrid learning model.  While the first day of school remains Tuesday, September 8, we will now begin the school year with an all-remote learning model. This will be in effect until September 21, 2020.  As is currently the case in school districts around the region, the pivot to all-remote learning has become necessary due to staffing issues and requests for leaves and accommodations due to COVID-19.  

In addition, we have modified the first week of school as follows:

  • Monday, September 7, 2020 – Labor Day – No School
  • Tuesday, September 8, 2020 & Wednesday, September 9, 2020-- Half day of school for students – All Remote
  • Thursday, September 10, 2020 & Friday, September 11, 2020 – Full day of school for students – All Remote

Please join us for Parent Town Hall meetings where we will present more detailed information on the all-remote learning plan. This will take place on Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. This session will be live streamed and recorded.  The recording will be available for on-demand viewing by 7:00 p.m. Parents will be invited to submit questions after these presentations. Questions will be answered in a Parent Town Hall to take place on Monday, August 31, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

While we are ready to open our doors for staff and students to return safely, we hope the additional time provides an extra measure of comfort for our community.  As always, I thank you for your interest and your patience as we work as community in the COVID-19 world.

Sincerely,

Eric M. Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

August 19, 2020

Dear Carmel Community:
Over the past week we have held three Parent Town Halls. During these sessions we clarified various aspects our reopening plan and answered many of the over 1000 questions and concerns we have received about the plan. All these sessions were recorded and can be accessed on our website along with the PowerPoint presentations. 

Parent feedback is essential for a successful opening.  We know, however, that we were unable to answer all questions we received, including building and grade specific questions. For that reason, each of our principals plans to hold Principal Coffees to address these concerns. Times and dates will be communicated by each principal. Additionally, we will provide other avenues for parent feedback on our plan that will be posted on our website. 

During our Parent Town Halls, we answered these important questions:

  • The first day of school for students will be Tuesday, September 8, 2020. September 8-11 will be ½ days for students. Full days will begin on Monday, September 14.
  • We will follow a hybrid model of learning that includes in-person and remote learning. In this model Cohort A (last names A-L) will attend in-person on Monday/Tuesday and Cohort B (last names M-Z) will attend in-person on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesdays, each cohort attend in-person on a rotating schedule (one week will be Cohort A and the next will be Cohort B). 
  • Adjustments will be made to the in-person hybrid model to account for holidays. For the first week of school, for example, Cohort A will attend on Tuesday/Wednesday and Cohort B will attend on Thursday/Friday.
  • We have been asked by many parents to provide a fully remote option in addition to the hybrid model. Based on the initial feedback from our parent survey we feel confident we will be able to accommodate families who would choose this option.
  • Should the fully remote option be made available, the time commitment will be for the semester or trimester (depending upon whether it is high school, middle school or elementary school). That means, those who choose either model, hybrid or fully remote, cannot switch until the semester or trimester ends.
  • Forms are now available to parents about your selection of either the hybrid or the fully remote learning option. Please note that while our previous survey was intended to gather data. The new form is asking for your commitment to one model or the other for at least the first trimester or semester. A link to the forms was emailed to parents.

We may hold additional Parent Town Hall meetings, especially in the event our plans change. Once again, we thank you for your patience as we work as a community to ensure we are returning our students and staff to the safest and best learning environment possible. In the meantime, questions may be submitted to us at info@carmelschools.org

Sincerely,
Eric M. Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

August 14, 2020

Dear Carmel Community:

Last evening we held the first of our three Parent Town Halls.  During this session our goal was to inform parents of the work that has been done to reopen our schools and to answer the many questions and concerns about what school will look like in Carmel in September.  The PowerPoint presentations  and the complete recording of the session can be found here.

During the session we addressed your most pressing questions:  When is the first day of school and what model of learning will students follow.

  • The first day of school for students will be Tuesday, September 8, 2020. September 8-11 will be ½ days for students. Full days will begin on Monday, September 14.
  • We will follow a hybrid model of learning that includes in-person and remote learning. In this model Cohort A will attend in-person on Monday/Tuesday and Cohort B will attend in-person on Thursday and Friday. This model currently has Wednesday as a remote learning day for all students. However, we are looking into the possibility of having each cohort attend on Wednesday on a rotating schedule.
  • We have been asked by many parents to provide a fully remote option in addition to the hybrid model. Based on the initial feedback from our parent survey we feel confident we will be able to accommodate families who would choose this option.  If you have not already done so, you may complete the parent survey until Monday, August 17, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.  Please complete one survey per child.
  • In the event we are able to offer the fully remote model parents would have to commit to that for the entire semester, quarter, marking period or trimester (depending on which type your child’s school follows).

We also answered many questions that came to us from parents regarding Instruction, Health & Safety, Support Services, Social Emotional Learning, Facilities, Technology, Transportation, Food Services, Interscholastic and Extra-Curricular Activities and District Finances. 

We acknowledge there will be follow up questions as well as questions that may not have been directly answered.  We welcome your feedback regarding the Town Hall and invite you to submit subsequent questions to us by 2:00 p.m. on Monday, August 17.  We will make every effort to answer additional questions and concerns in our next two Town Hall meetings that will be held on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.  The first is at 11:00 a.m. and the second is at 7:00 p.m.  As was done with the first session, these will be live streamed and recorded.

We thank you for your patience as we work as a community to ensure we are returning our students and staff to the safest and best learning environment possible.

Sincerely,
Eric M. Stark
Interim Superintendent of Schools

*Parents will be given opportunities to ask building and grade level specific questions in upcoming Principal Coffees.  Each principal will be in touch with parents about dates and times.

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

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

What Parents Can Do to Help

Prevention

Know an implement CDC guidelines for health and safety. Promote the 3Cs: COVER, CLEAN, CONTAIN

  • COVER: Teach children to cough into the crook of their elbow or into a tissue that is immediately thrown away.
  • CLEAN: Teach children to frequently wash their hands with water and soap for 20 seconds— about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. Remind children to avoid touching their face.
  • CONTAIN: Contact the school nurse if you have any questions or concerns regarding symptoms, when to keep a child home, and how long your child should stay home when sick.

Prepare

Teach and model for your children how to maintain social distancing and use of a face covering outside the home. Prepare for health checks as we move forward toward the return to school.  Perhaps, pack a hand sanitizer in their back to school bag.

Plan

Similar to flu season, parents can have a backup plan should your child become sick and need to stay home. Identify who should be added to your contact list if a child would need to be collected from the school during work hours. Consider who will stay home and care for a child who may have a fever or be symptomatic. Reach out to the school nurse in your school if you have any questions.
 

Phone

Parents, please call your school office if you have someone in your household who is seeking medical attention, has been advised to isolate, or has a diagnosis of Covid-19.