Updates from the Superintendent

  • 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
  • April 8, 2021

    Dear Carmel Community,

    As we move forward with our transition back to in-person learning next week, we recognize that there are many emotions that may arise for our students, their families and our staff.

    To help make the transition back easier, we are providing additional resources on coping strategies that may be beneficial over the coming days and weeks.

    Resources:

    These resources and more are available on our Return to In-Person Learning webpage.

    We look forward to welcoming many of our students back to our classrooms on Tuesday, April 13. We know that in-person classroom time is important to our students' educational experience and their social-emotional wellbeing, and we are committed to doing all that we can to maintain our in-person learning plans through the remainder of the school year.

    As part of our ongoing communication, we will be providing additional resources, including a mental health screener and information on what to expect when returning to in-person learning, next week.

    Thank you, again, for your partnership during this important transition. Our students are our priority and, together, we will continue to educate the whole student to become lifelong learners in an ever-changing world.

    Sincerely,
    Mary-Margaret Zehr

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • April 6, 2021

    Dear Carmel Community,

    The District is preparing to welcome our students back for in-person learning five days a week beginning April 13. This transition back to in-person learning is important for the academic and social-emotional wellbeing of so many of our students.

    We are preparing for the new challenges that may arise with more students in-person in our schools. We continue to take proactive measures and will follow our mitigation strategies and the rules established by our local Department of Health.

    As part of our preparation we are providing the community with additional resources about COVID-19 safety and quarantining. Parents and students will receive detailed information about returning to specific buildings directly from building principals.

    Resources:

    These resources and more are available on our Return to In-Person Learning webpage.

    We will continue to provide additional resources in the coming days and months as we work together to maintain our in-person learning through the remainder of the school year. Our students are our priority and we appreciate your support of one another and our schools during this transitional time.

    Sincerely,
    Mary-Margaret Zehr

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • March 22, 2021

    Dear Carmel Community,    

    We are pleased to share that the District will be increasing opportunities for in-person learning. The Return to Learn Committee provided thoughtful recommendations and we are thankful for their insight. Several essential pieces of information about the transition to additional in-person days can be found below. 

    In-Person Five (5) Days a Week
    Beginning April 13, 2021, we will be implementing additional in-person opportunities for all grade levels. Additional information is available in our Spring 2021 Plan document.

    • Grades K-4
      • Students will attend in person every school day of the week beginning on April 13, 2021.
      • Students/parents will have the option to remain remote five (5) days a week.
      • Students who are quarantined will be provided with asynchronous work for days that they may be quarantined.
    • Grades 5-8  
      • Students will attend in person every school day of the week beginning on April 13, 2021.
      • Students/parents will have the option to remain remote five (5) days a week.
      • Students who are absent will attend classes remotely via streaming.
    • Grades 9-12  
      • Students will attend in person every school day of the week beginning on April 13, 2021.
      • Students/parents will have the option to remain remote five (5) days a week.
      • Students/parents will have the option to remain in a hybrid model. 
      • Students who are absent will attend classes remotely via streaming.

    Remote-Learning Days
    There will be two remote-learning (asynchronous) days prior to the start of increased in-person learning. These days will provide the District opportunities to set up classrooms, install barriers, and plan for social-emotional learning (SEL) activities for students. Students will have a remote-learning day on April 9, and April 12. April 16 will be a regular school day and the previously scheduled staff development day has been canceled. 

    Increased Communication for Return to In-Person Learning
    All communications regarding the return to in-person learning can be found on our website. 

    • Return to Learn Learning Model Survey due March 29: Parents will receive a Return to Learn survey from their building principals to select a learning model option for the rest of the school year. This survey is mandatory for all parents to complete. Surveys are due on March 29. 
       
    • Principals Zoom Coffee Sessions – April 6, 2021: Building principals will hold Zoom Coffee sessions to explain details specific to their buildings. The dates and times are as follows: 
      • Kent Elementary: April 6 at 5 p.m. A Zoom link will be forwarded to all parents.
      • Kent Primary: April 6 at 5 p.m. A Zoom link will be forwarded to all parents.
      • Matthew Paterson Elementary: April 6 at 5 p.m. A Zoom link will be forwarded to all parents.
      • George Fisher Middle School: April 6 at 7 p.m. A Zoom link will be forwarded to all parents.
      • Carmel High School: April 6 at 6 p.m. A Zoom link will be forwarded to all parents.

    These Coffee sessions will be recorded and available on our website for those who are unable to attend the live options. 

    Resources & Additional Information

    • April 5-9: The District will provide families and students with information about COVID safety, quarantining, and social-emotional resources. Additionally, building principals will provide detailed information about return to specific buildings. 
    • April 12-16: The District will provide families and students with welcome back messages, reminders about remaining healthy, and how to transition back to in-person learning.
    • April 19-June 25: The District will continue to provide families and students with information about remaining healthy and social-emotional resources. 

    Mitigation Strategies to Prevent the Spread of COVID
    We know that there is evidence that tells us the virus transmission rates in schools are low if mitigation strategies are in place. 

    • We will continue to follow all previous mitigation strategies including screeners, random temperature checks, surface disinfection, masking, and hygiene practices. 
    • When students are distanced less than 6-feet, we will be installing barriers.
    • We will start in-person opportunities on April 13, 2021, as we want to mitigate any transmission from out-of-area travel during spring vacation. 

    Cafeteria & Lunch 

    • Elementary Schools: Students will eat in the cafeteria with polycarbonate dividers assigned to every other space. PTO tables will be placed in the gymnasium as needed.  
    • Middle School: Students will eat in the cafeteria with polycarbonate dividers assigned to every other space. PTO tables will be placed in the gymnasium as needed. 
    • High School: Students will be allowed to go uptown. Alternate eating areas with polycarbonate dividers will be available throughout the school. 

    Transportation
    Students will need to sit two in every seat. Parents can request to have their child wear a face shield with a mask on the bus. The District will provide shields to parents who request them for their children. Parents will have the option to transport their student rather than take the bus. 

    Return to In-Person Learning Committee
    Our Return to In-Person Learning Committee provided the District with essential information and recommendations for us to increase our in-person instructional days. We are thankful for the insight and dedication to review all aspects of increasing in-person days. The Committee will need to reconvene later this spring to begin addressing Fall 2021. 

    Challenges of Increased In-Person Instruction
    We are prepared that there will be new challenges with more students in-person at our schools. We will continue to encounter cases of the virus and quarantining will continue under the rules established by our local Department of Health. Building and district-level administrators will work with staff, students, and parents to address challenges as they occur. 

    Health and Wellness
    Please remain vigilant about all health and safety protocols so our community stays well and so we have the best chance of maintaining in-person learning through June. If your children are sick, please do not send them to school. Please refer to the NYSDOH flow chart regarding when you should see a physician or be tested for COVID. 

    This past year has been the most challenging year for our students, parents, staff, and community, and we know there is a clear link between learning in-person and the academic and social-emotional well-being of our students. We are appreciative that our community has been able to come together to make sure the students are our priority as we begin increasing in-person instruction. 

    Sincerely,
    Mary-Margaret Zehr 

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • March 11, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents and Community,

    I hope this communication finds your family healthy and safe. I am writing to you today to share some important updates with you.

    High School Students with Disabilities in Co-taught Special Education Classes & English Language Learners
    Students with disabilities in co-taught special education classes and English Language Learners in grades 9-12 will begin in-person instruction five days a week on March 15, 2021. As per New York State recommendations, these learners need to be in-person to the greatest extent possible. Additional details for these groups will be emailed directly from the Office of Pupil Personnel Services.

    COVID Screeners
    It is essential that all students complete the COVID screener prior to coming to school each day. Additionally, if a student is experiencing any symptoms, they should not come to school. Screening forms can be found at: https://www.carmelschools.org/covid19_screening

    Can My Child Go to School Guidance?
    The schools are following the NYSDOH toolkit for schools which can be found at: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/02/nysdoh_prekgr12_toolkit_update-020121.pdf. The flow chart is easy-to-read and provides information regarding symptoms, travel and COVID testing. As we move toward changes to our Return to Learn plan and potentially bringing more students back to school, it is imperative that students are not coming into a school building while symptomatic.

    Spring 2021 Return to Learn Committee
    Joseph Simoni, assistant superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services, and Lizzette Ruiz-Giovinazzi, assistant superintendent for Instruction & Personnel, will be hosting the first Spring 2021 Return to Learn Committee meeting this week. The committee members will be answering questions in three areas: Health/Safety, Learning Model, and Social Emotional Learning. The committee consists of teachers, staff, parents and students. There are currently no decisions regarding the return of students more frequently or dates for any changes. The Committee will work quickly and focus on solutions and make a recommendation about how to move forward. Additionally, the minutes from the Spring 2021 Return to Learn Committee meetings will be posted on our website so that the process is transparent.

    Keep up the incredible work in helping your children to become lifelong learners in an ever-changing world. It is through this positive partnership between home and school that we will ensure the best possible outcomes for our children. Your ongoing support has meant a great deal to our school district staff.

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • March 4, 2021

    Dear Carmel Parents and Community,

    I hope this communication finds your family healthy and safe. I am writing to you today to share some important updates with you.

    Spring 2021 Return to Learn Committee
    We are in the process of resurrecting the Return to Learn Committee from this past summer. The committee, led by Joseph Simoni, assistant superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services, and Lizzette Ruiz-Giovinazzi, assistant superintendent for Instruction & Personnel, consists of teachers, staff, and parents. The Spring 2021 committee will be asked to review NYSDOH and NYSED guidance from last summer and more recent communications to determine how the District can bring students in-person for more days. The committee will work quickly and focus on solutions. Additionally, the minutes from Spring 2021 Return to Learn Committee meetings will be posted on our website so that the process is transparent.

    Spring/Summer Curriculum Review
    As we move closer to the end of the school year, Ms. Ruiz-Giovinazzi will be working with principals and department chairs to review student data, curriculum maps, and scope and sequence documents. The intent is to determine how curricula should be adjusted in the fall. Please stay tuned for more information.

    High School Events
    Principal Lauren Santabarbara and the high school administration are working with students and parents to find creative ways to hold some milestone events for the high school students. As soon as decisions are finalized, announcements will be made from the high school.

    Budget Advocacy
    The month of March is a critical time in the NYS legislature to determine aid that is provided to school districts. Carmel Central School District will be facing a gap between expenditures and revenues this school year which will result in reductions. Over this month, the administration and the Board of Education will be discussing specifics regarding reductions. Any advocacy that parents, staff and community members can do with their NYS legislators is much appreciated. The NYS School Boards Association has an excellent list of budget priorities that can be found at: https://www.nyssba.org/clientuploads/nyssba_pdf/gr/budget-priorities-02022021.pdf

    6Cs - Collaboration
    This year, parents and teachers have done an amazing job working together for a common purpose! We have appreciated the partnerships that have been created and know that students will benefit from this collaboration! #Carmel6Cs

    "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." -Henry Ford

    Keep up the incredible work in helping your children to become lifelong learners in an ever-changing world.  Your ongoing support has meant a great deal to our school district staff.

    Sincerely,
    Mary-Margaret Zehr

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • February 22, 2021

    The feedback we have received from all constituents through our recent Thought Exchange regarding our learning models was powerful and prompted us to rethink our approach. 

    We have analyzed the data thoroughly and want to provide the best learning options for the students in our community. 

    Beginning March 3, 2021, Carmel Central School District will shift to in-person instruction on Wednesdays for grades K-12, alternating the cohort groups.  This is the model we operated under in the fall when we first opened after fully remote instruction.  

    Wednesday, March 3, 2021, will be an in-person day for Cohort B. 

    The alternating cohort schedule is based on the current tally of in-person days each cohort completed as of this week.  

    Students who have opted for fully remote instruction will return to the same model we first operated under in the fall. 

    Students with Disabilities in Co-taught Special Education Classes & English Language Learners 

    • Students with disabilities in co-taught special education classes and English Language Learners in grades K-6 will move to a fully in-person schedule, five days a week, beginning March 8, 2021.  
    • Students with disabilities in co-taught special education classes and English Language Learners in grades 7-8 will begin March 15, 2021.  
    • We are still exploring our options to bring students with disabilities in co-taught special education classes and English Language Learners in grades 9-12 back fully in-person at this time.  
    • As per New York State recommendations, these learners need to be in-person to the greatest extent possible. Additional details for these groups will be emailed directly from the Office of Pupil Personnel Services.  

    We will continue to keep you informed of any updates from the Department of Health that may allow us to bring our students in more frequently. 

    This schedule change is a testament to the support that our parents have provided, and the thoughtful decisions that have kept our students and teachers healthy. By remaining vigilant, completing the daily COVID screeners, and not sending your students to school while sick, you have helped keep our schools safe and open. 

    For additional information and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit our Return to Learn FAQ webpage

    If you have specific questions about these changes and how they impact your child, please contact your child’s principal. 

    Re-Opening Our Schools
  • 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

    Re-Opening Our 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

    Re-Opening Our 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

    Re-Opening Our Schools
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Fall 2021 Reopening Committee Updates

The Fall 2021 Reopening Committee has been formed and already hosted meetings to discuss and plan for the reopening this fall. The Committee's focus includes instruction, health services and  social-emotional support. 

As part of the transparent process with the Committee, documents from Committee meetings are being shared with the community.

Committee Meeting: May 24, 2021

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.
 

COVID-19 Screening Form

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.