Updates from the Superintendent

  • September 28, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents & Guardians,

    Late last week, the Putnam County Department of Health provided updated guidance for students returning to school after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, or when diagnosed COVID-19 positive.

    As a reminder, please continue to do wellness checks on your child(ren) each morning before sending them to our school buildings. If your child is feeling ill, even with mild symptoms, please do not send them to school. You are our first line of defense in combatting the spread of COVID-19 and your diligence will help ensure that our buildings stay safe and can remain open.

    Individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 should receive an NAAT test (most commonly, the PCR test) prior to returning to school. Alternatively, there are instances where a healthcare provider may provide a clear alternate diagnosis. Typically, a return to school may occur after one of the following:

    • resolution of symptoms and fever free for 24 hours PLUS a negative COVID PCR test; OR
    • positive COVID test (an antigen test will suffice here), AND release from isolation.

    The New York State Department of Health’s expectation is that all schools require a negative NAAT result for people with new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 to return to school.

    Currently, individuals who have tested positive are NOT required to test negative before returning to school after completion of isolation.

    Antigen tests are typically for screening purposes only. A negative antigen test on a symptomatic individual is not acceptable for a return to school, currently. 

    Additionally, an antigen test might be accepted if a variety of conditions were met. Putnam County is currently considered an area with HIGH transmission, and because of this, we are not able to accept negative antigen test results from an individual with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. 

    If you have any questions regarding returning to one of our buildings. Please email reopening@carmelschools.org. Stay safe and be well!

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Joseph Simoni                        
    Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services & Technology

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • September 16, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents & Guardians,

    Last week, we provided you with an update regarding information on COVID-19 testing in a P-12 school setting provided by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). 

    As a reminder, we are asking you to please complete our online Vaccination Status and Testing form for your child(ren) by the end of the day, Friday, September 17.

    If you do not feel comfortable disclosing information on your child’s vaccination status, please indicate that option on your child's form.

    This form is for you to indicate whether your child is vaccinated, and if your child is not vaccinated, whether you would like to opt your child into a weekly COVID-19 testing program.

    Providing information on your child’s vaccination status will help the District to determine quarantine needs if there is an exposure to COVID-19. We are asking for this information on each of our students in response to a request from the Putnam County Department of Health.

    We recognize that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires parents, students and the District to be flexible and adapt to updated guidance from our federal, state and local leaders. We appreciate your continued cooperation and partnership as we all work together to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment for our students and staff. 

    If you have any questions regarding our reopening plan, vaccination status request, or optional weekly COVID-19 testing program, please send an email to reopening@carmelschools.org

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Joseph Simoni
    Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services & Technology

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • September 10, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents & Guardians,

    Last week we let you know that on Thursday, September 2, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) released new information regarding COVID-19 testing in a P-12 school setting.

    Here are a few updates:

    Optional COVID-19 Screening Tests
    As part of the new requirements for schools, the District must offer COVID-19 screening testing for unvaccinated students in geographic areas identified by the CDC as having moderate, substantial, or high transmission rates. This testing will be completely optional. We are working with the Putnam County Department of Health to facilitate the testing and will provide additional information as soon as it is finalized. Parents and guardians will be able to opt-in for the weekly optional testing for their child.

    Quarantine
    Additionally, while reviewing and discussing quarantine protocols with the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH), we have been informed that students who are vaccinated do not need to quarantine after contact with an individual who is positive for COVID-19.

    Vaccination Status
    We are therefore asking parents/guardians to provide the District with information regarding your child’s vaccination status. This will allow the District to determine if a child is required to quarantine if exposed to individual who is positive for COVID-19. The PCDOH has asked the District to take on the task of obtaining vaccination status information for the students in the District.

    Please complete our online Vaccination Status and Testing form to indicate whether your child is vaccinated, and if your child is not vaccinated, whether you would like to opt your child into the weekly COVID-19 testing program. We request that you complete this form no later than the end of the day on September 17 so that the District can plan accordingly.

    Vaccine Clinic
    The District is working with ACME Markets to offer a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the coming weeks. The clinic will be open to students, staff and any community members seeking vaccinations. We will update you once a date has been selected for the clinic.

    As we enter the new school year, we continue to review and make changes to our reopening plan document as new guidance and mandates arise. If you have any questions regarding our reopening plan, please send an email to reopening@carmelschools.org.

    Thank you for your continued cooperation and partnership. Please continue to stay safe and well!

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Joseph Simoni
    Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services & Technology

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • September 3, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents,

    Late yesterday afternoon, September 2, the Putnam County Department of Health issued notice to our District regarding updated requirements from the New York State Department of Health.

    The District will be reviewing and updating our Fall 2021 Reopening Plan over the next few days to ensure that it aligns with these new requirements. We will be working with a subgroup of the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee to review the new testing requirements. 

    It is our hope to be able to send additional guidance to our teachers, staff and parents late next week, due to the upcoming school closure Monday - Wednesday for the Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah holidays. 

    Guidance Documents 

    We will continue to keep you informed of any updates that continue to be communicated from the Putnam County Department of Health, New York State Department of Health or New York State Education Department.

    Have a great holiday weekend and please stay safe!

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools
    Carmel Central School District

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • September 1, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents & Students,

    Welcome to the 2021-22 school year! Tomorrow is an exciting day as we welcome our students back to our buildings to kick off an amazing year. I hope that you enjoyed your summer break and are entering the new year at Carmel Central School District refreshed and ready to learn!

    While we head into another year that is a bit different than a typical year, our incredible teachers and staff are committed to creating a wonderful, supportive, safe and fun learning environment for all students.

    As a reminder, tomorrow, September 2, is a full day of school for our students in grades 1-12, and a modified school day for our incoming kindergarteners with an orientation and bus run. Detailed information for our incoming kindergarteners was emailed directly from the elementary schools’ principals.

    Fall 2021 Reopening Plans
    final plan document outlining the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee’s decisions for our reopening is available on the Carmel Central School District website. Similar to our spring plan, the final plan document is a living document that may change as new guidance and mandates arise.

    A few reminders for coming back to our buildings:

    • Mask wearing: As mentioned in the email sent on August 29, in accordance with the mandate issued by the New York State Department of Health, all students, staff and visitors must wear face masks while inside Carmel Central School District school buildings and while on school buses, regardless of vaccination status.
    • COVID-19 Screener: A daily COVID-19 health screener for each student will no longer be required. However, parents are asked to commit to a one-time agreement for following specific health guidelines, similar to those listed in the screening form in the spring. Please complete the attached screener document, one for each child, and return it to your child’s building principal no later than September 10, 2021.
    • Cleaning/Disinfecting/Mitigation Strategies: The same cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place during the spring will continue in our buildings. Windows and doors will continue to be kept open as much as possible. Barriers will still be an option.
    • Social-Emotional Learning Screeners: In order to ensure that social-emotional needs are met for all students, we are asking parents to complete a Social-Emotional Screening Survey for each student, similar to the one completed last year. Once this screening questionnaire is completed, our counseling and clinical staff will review your/your child's individual needs and determine a plan moving forward.

    The final 2021 Reopening Plan document provides full details on these areas and more. If you have any questions regarding our reopening plan, please send an email to reopening@carmelschools.org.

    Thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to look to the leaders at the state and local Departments of Health and state Education Department for guidance. We recognize that there are still so many unknowns in the world today, but one thing we do know is that our teachers and staff will provide a supportive and enjoyable year for our students.

    Once again, welcome to the 2021-2022 school year! I can’t wait to see our students again tomorrow morning!

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools
    Carmel Central School District

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • August 29, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents, Students & Staff,

    On August 27, 2021, The New York State Department of Health issued a mandate establishing that masks are still required to be worn while indoor school facilities.

    The mandate from the New York State Department of Health is as follows:

    “Effective immediately, in accordance with the Commissioner's Determination issued pursuant to 10 NYCRR 2.60, any person over the age of 2 (including all students, personnel, teachers, administrators, contractors, and visitors) must wear masks at all times indoors in P-12 school buildings, regardless of vaccination status. People with medical or developmental conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask may be exempted from mask requirements, as documented by a medical provider. People do not need to wear masks when eating, drinking, singing, or playing a wind instrument; when masks are removed for these purposes, individuals must be spaced six feet apart. All mask requirements must be applied consistently with any state and federal law (e.g., Americans with Disabilities Act).”

    Additional Resources 

    In accordance with this mandate, all students, staff and visitors must wear face masks while inside Carmel Central School District school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, beginning Monday, August 30, 2021. 

    As this mandate has been issued from the New York State Department of Health, no decision is needed from the Board of Education at the August 31 meeting. We will continue to keep you informed on any updates that continue to be communicated from the New York State Department of Education or New York State Department of Health. 

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools
    Carmel Central School District

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • August 20, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents & Students,

    Thank you for your patience and input regarding plans for our students to return to our school buildings for the 2021-22 school year.

    Our Fall 2021 Reopening Committee has been hard at work, reviewing guidance and mandates, having important discussions, and leading decisions to ensure that we can welcome our students back safely.

    Thank you to all the staff, students and parents who are a part of the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee. Your assistance and thoughtful discussions have made all the difference in our planning during a challenging global pandemic.

    We are excited to welcome our students back for in-person learning on Thursday, September 2!

    Website Update
    We are thrilled to share that the District and individual school websites will be getting a visual makeover over the next few days. You will still be able to access all the same information that is on our website now, just in a brighter, modernized and visually appealing new layout. We are eager to share the updated website with you. Look for the website to update by Monday!

    On behalf of the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee, I am providing the following updates on our reopening plans:

    Fall 2021 Reopening Committee Updates
    The Fall 2021 Reopening Committee met on August 12 and August 19 to continue discussions regarding the recent guidance provided by the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department to prepare for reopening our schools this fall for the 2021-22 school year. 

    Guidance Resources: 

    Documents from the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee meeting are available on the Carmel Central School District website, and included here for easy access: 

    Fall 2021 Reopening Plans
    The Fall 2021 Reopening Committee is continuing to review updated guidance and mandates as they are provided by the New York State Department of Health, New York State Education Department and the Governor’s office. 

    Current plans and final decisions of the Committee include: 

    • All Carmel Central School District students will return to in-person learning on September 2, unless a student has an approved medical accommodation. An email and form to request an accommodation was emailed to parents on August 11. If you still need to submit a 504 accommodation form for your student, please do so as soon as possible.  
       
    • COVID-19 Screener: A daily COVID-19 health screener for each student will no longer be required. However, parents will be asked to commit to a one-time agreement for following specific health guidelines, similar to those listed in the screening form in the spring.
       
    • Cleaning/Disinfecting/Mitigation Strategies: The same cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place during the spring will continue in our buildings. Windows and doors will continue to be kept open as much as possible. Barriers will still be an option.
       
    • Instruction: If 50% of students in a Grades K-4 class must quarantine due to exposure, the class will shift to remote instruction. The Grades K-4 teachers will work with families to provide alternate instruction options when less than 50% of students are quarantined. For Grades 5-12, if students are quarantined due to exposure, confirmed by the Putnam County Department of Health, they will be contacted by their teachers via email or their Teams pages with information on how to access virtual livestreams of their classes. Any learning from the previous school year will be addressed individually by building administration and teachers. Grant funding has been allocated to address these needs.
       
    • Temperature Checks: The District will continue to do random temperature checks of students and staff at all school buildings.
       
    • Transportation: In compliance with federal mandates, students and staff are required to wear face masks while on school buses.
       
    • Food Services: Any family that has students in remote-learning and requires food distribution can contact Food Services for assistance.
       
    • Athletics: Fall Athletics will begin as scheduled next week. As we continue to review ever-changing guidance, there may be some changes to how health protocols are handled in terms of athletics.
       
    • Social Gatherings: Virtual options will be considered for all social gatherings depending on the event.

    Topics still being discussed for final decision by the Committee: 

    • Mask Wearing: We are still awaiting guidance from New York State on mask wearing. If NY State does not issue specific guidance on masks, the Carmel Central School District Board of Education will make a decision for the District at a special Board meeting on August 31. 

    • Social-Emotional Learning Screeners: The committee is considering options for social-emotional learning (SEL) screening tools. The committee feels it is important to have both parent input on a student through a screening tool, as well as teacher input from in-person observations. More information regarding social-emotional learning will be sent to parents prior to the start of the school year.

    • COVID-19 Testing: The committee is still in discussion about providing parents with the option to have their child COVID-19 tested on a routine basis.

    • Extracurricular Activities: The committee is still in discussion on how extracurricular activities and special area subjects will be impacted by COVID-19 health protocols.

    Fall 2021 Reopening Plan Document
    A final plan document outlining the committee’s decisions for the Fall 2021 reopening will be available on the Carmel Central School District website once final decisions have been made. Similar to our spring plan, the final plan document is a living document that may change as new guidance and mandates arise. 

    Thank you to our entire community for your patience and support during a unique reopening plan process. Every decision regarding our reopening is thoughtfully reviewed to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment for our students and staff. 

    If there is something you wish to see the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee address, please email reopening@carmelschools.org

    Please stay safe and be well!

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools
    Carmel Central School District

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • August 10, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents, Students, Staff and Community,

    On Friday, August 6, 2021, the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee met to discuss current guidelines and guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department to prepare for reopening our schools this fall for the 2021-22 school year.

    As part of the transparent process with the Committee, documents from the meeting are available on the Carmel Central School District website, and included here for easy access:

    The committee will reconvene on Thursday, August 12, for additional review of current guidelines and guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department.

    We will communicate any decisions made by the Committee at the meeting, or any additional guidance that is released, as quickly as possible.

    Sincerely,

    Carmel Central School District Administration

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • July 29, 2021

    Dear Carmel Community,

    Summer break is in full swing, and I hope that all of you are enjoying the wonderful weather, getting much-deserved relaxation, and having tons of fun, safely!

    While the hallways of our school buildings are much quieter right now, there is still so much exciting activity taking place, including the library renovation at George Fischer Middle School, the extended school year for our special education students, Future Genius camps for select eighth grade students, and general maintenance and updates to prepare for the new school year. 

    As we look ahead to the fall, we await guidance and expectations from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Education. We don’t yet know what the year will look like for our students and staff, but we are committed to providing a safe and engaging learning environment, above all.

    We anticipate receiving guidance soon and when we do, our Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services & Technology Joseph Simoni will reconvene our Fall 2021 Reopening Committee, comprised of parents and staff, to review the available information and make decisions. We will communicate any decisions with you as quickly as possible.

    We have not received any guidance yet and don’t know what requirements will be needed, which has made planning for the fall reopening challenging. The Committee has already provided early preparation plans and important discussions ahead of any directives from the State, and we are ready to address any directives received.

    Thank you for your continued support and partnership as we navigate this process and plan for an amazing year. We can’t wait to kick off the 2021-2022 school year in just a few weeks!


    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • April 12, 2021

    Dear Carmel Community,

    We are excited to welcome our students back tomorrow, April 13, for full-time in-person learning. It has been a long journey, but we can’t wait to see more of your smiling, but masked, faces in our buildings tomorrow!

    Our staff has been hard at work preparing our buildings for your arrival, installing barriers and making the necessary changes to our space to provide a safe educational environment in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    The return to in-person learning is a testament the support that our parents have provided, and the thoughtful decisions that have kept our students and teachers healthy. We will continue to need the entire communities partnership to keep our school environments safe.

    Daily COVID-19 Screener
    It is important that the required daily COVID-19 screener for students is completed every morning prior to coming to our school buildings. By remaining vigilant, completing the daily screener, and not sending your student(s) to school while sick, you will help keep our schools safe and open.

    Resources
    Our staff has worked to make this transition back easier by providing health and safety information and coping resources which have been emailed out to the community, and made available on our Return to In-Person Learning webpage.

    Additional resources from our Pupil Personnel Services team: 

    Social-Emotional Learning Parent Night
    We will be offering a parent night with a focus on Social-Emotional Learning on April 27, 2021, beginning at 5:45 p.m. The night will begin with a virtual meditation via Zoom followed by a presentation from the Lower Hudson Valley Family and Community Engagement Center on social-emotional support.

    We know that in-person classroom time will provide important learning opportunities and social-emotional benefits for our young learners, and we are excited to be able to fully provide that againWe remain committed to doing all that we can to maintain our in-person learning plans through the remainder of the school year.

    Thank you to the entire Carmel community for making this return possible. You continue to make our students a priority and your dedication has profound positive impacts on our students.

    Please be safe and stay well. We will see you tomorrow! 

    Sincerely, 
    Mary-Margaret Zehr 

    Re-Opening Our Schools
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Fall 2021 Reopening Committee Updates

On Friday, August 6, 2021, the Fall 2021 Reopening Committee met to discuss current guidelines and guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department to prepare for reopening our schools this fall for the 2021-22 school year.

As part of the transparent process with the Committee, documents from the meeting are included here for easy access:

Committee Meeting: August 6, 2021

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.