Superintendent of Schools

Mary-Margaret Zehr began as the Superintendent of Schools for Carmel Central School District in February 2021.

She brings years of experience, strong leadership skills, and an understanding of the importance of clear communication with all stakeholder groups.

Zehr began her lifelong career in education as a Social Studies teacher, but quickly moved onto administrative roles. Among these, she has served as high school and middle school principal, Committee on Special Education chair, assistant superintendent and superintendent.

She holds a certificate of advanced study in Educational Administration from SUNY-Oswego, a Master of Arts degree in Social Studies and International Education from New York University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary and Early Secondary Education from SUNY-Cortland. Her certifications include New York State Permanent School District Administrator and permanent teaching certification in Social Studies.

Updates from the Superintendent

  • January 18, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    On January 13, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) aligned its isolation and quarantine guidance, with a few exceptions and clarifications, with the recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated guidance.

    This updated guidance supersedes the essential worker portion of the December 24, 2021, NYSDOH Shortened Isolation Guidance, and the January 4, 2022, NYSDOH Interim Updated Isolation & Quarantine Guidance.

    Updated Guidance & Resources 

    Updated Guidance Summary 
    Please refer to the NYS Department of Health Isolation & Quarantine Guidance from January 13, 2022, for the update in its entirety. A summary of the updates as it relates to our schools is included here: 

    Quarantine Exception for Schools (K-12) 

    • Any exposed student or staff member who is not vaccinated must quarantine for five (5) days. Individuals may return to school after their quarantine period if they are symptom-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and do not have a runny nose/productive cough.  
    • All fully vaccinated students and staff can remain in school regardless of exposure.  
    • Exposed students, teachers, and staff who are vaccinated but did not receive a CDC-recommended booster when eligible must quarantine for five (5) days but can attend or work at school during the quarantine period where masking, distancing, etc., is monitored and enforced. However, these individuals must continue to quarantine as otherwise required outside of academic instruction periods in school. Extra-curricular, after-school, or community activities are not permitted during quarantine. 

    What To Do if Not Subject to Quarantine 

    • Wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of last close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19. The date of last close contact is considered day 0.  
    • Get tested at least five (5) days after the date of last close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19. 
    • Anyone who was positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, and has since recovered and remained symptom-free, does not need to get tested after close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19. 

    Changes to Contact Tracing 

    • The Putnam County Department of Health is no longer requiring a report of close contacts from individuals who test positive for COVID-19, and they are no longer recording this data. You should no longer expect to hear from the Department of Health regarding quarantine.  
    • Effectively immediately, our District will begin notifying families of any exposure in school by class within each building, a practice that most schools are also currently shifting to. This notification will come directly from the school your child attends.  
    • If your child was in a classroom where a notification has been sent regarding exposure and you are concerned with the status of his/her exposure to an individual who is positive for COVID-19, you can reach out to the building principal. We are ready to assist you with offers of testing options and instructions on what to do when quarantining.  

    As we have mentioned previously, guidance changes and clarifications are released frequently, and the information is accurate at the time it has been shared. We will continue to keep you updated to the best of our ability as new information is provided to our district. Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation. 

    Sincerely, 

    Mary-Margaret Zehr 
    Superintendent of Schools 

    Joseph Simoni 
    Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services & Technology 

    Superintendent of Schools
  • January 7, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    As a follow-up to the message we sent yesterday, interim updated isolation and quarantine guidance from the Putnam County Department of Health regarding isolation is included here:

    Updated Guidance from the Department of Health
    On January 4, 2022, New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) released interim updated isolation and quarantine guidance. This guidance aligns with some of the recent CDC recommendations. While it is anticipated that there may be further updates from NYSDOH and/or the CDC in the near future, the following changes are being adapted by the Putnam County Department of Health in the interim.

    These changes are immediately in effect for all Putnam County residents, regardless of age:

    Isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19:   

    • Isolate for five (5)days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset or (if asymptomatic) the day of collection of the first positive specimen. Can return to school/work on day 6.  
    • If asymptomatic at the end of five (5) days, or if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms are resolving, isolation ends, and the individual should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional five (5) Can return to school/work on day 6. 
    • Individuals who are moderately-severely immunocompromised should continue to follow the standard (i.e., not shortened) 10-day isolation period, and can return to school/work on day 11.  
    • Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for five (5)days after a 5-day isolation should also follow the standard (i.e., not shortened) 10-day isolation period, and can return to school/work on day 11.  
    • See “COVID Positive Condition & Isolation Period” 

    Quarantine for those who were exposed to a confirmed positive individual:   

    • Quarantine for a period of five (5)days for any age individual if symptoms have subsided, and the individual can wear a well-fitting mask.   
    • See "Vaccination Status & Quarantine Requirement” below

    If you are currently quarantined and have surpassed day 5, and, if symptomatic, your symptoms have subsided (see below), you may return to work/school.

    Vaccination Status & Quarantine Requirement 

    • Any age individual who is quarantined due to exposure and, if symptomatic, whose symptoms have subsided (24 hours fever-free without the use of medication, no runny nose, no productive cough): Quarantine for five (5) days and wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional five (5) 

    COVID Positive Condition & Isolation Period 

    • Symptomatic: Isolate for five (5)days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset. Can return to school/work on day 6 
    • Asymptomatic Positive: Where day 0 is the day of collection of the first positive specimen. Can return to school/work on day 6.
    • Asymptomatic at the end of 5 days or if you are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and other symptoms are resolving: The individual should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional five (5) Can return to school/work on day 6. 
    • Individuals who are moderately-severely immunocompromised: 10-day isolation period. Can return to school/work on day 11. 
    • Individuals who are unable to wear a well-fitting mask for five (5)days after a 5-day isolation as determined by a 504 Plan or IEP: 10-day isolation period. Can return to school/work on day 11. 

    As you are aware, guidance changes frequently, and the information is accurate at the time it has been shared. We will continue to keep you updated to the best of our ability. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this time.

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Joseph Simoni
    Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services & Technology 

    Superintendent of Schools
  • January 6, 2022

    Dear Carmel Community,

    I want to thank you for your cooperation and understanding this week as the weather provided us with another challenge to overcome. Our priority is always the safety of our students and staff, and we remain vigilant in our monitoring of the COVID-19 status in our community as well as the weather forecasts. We appreciate your ongoing flexibility and patience.

    We want to ensure that parents/guardians, students and staff are aware of the following updates:

    At-Home COVID-19 Test Kit Pick-up
    In order to accommodate additional district families who were unable to pick up their student’s test kit this week, we have updated our schedule to include additional pick-up times.

    The district will provide one test kit per district student. Students must attend one of the five schools in our district in order to receive a test kit. Parents/guardians must be the ones to pick up for their child(ren) and will be asked to provide the name(s) of their district student(s) to receive the test kit(s).

    At-home COVID-19 test kits will be available for pick up at the Carmel Central School District Administrative Office (81 South Street, Patterson, NY, 12563) on: 

    • Monday, January 10: 8-10 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. 

    When picking up the at-home test kits, parents/guardians are asked to enter the building using the lower-level double doors that face South Street. As a reminder, masks must be worn by anyone entering a school district building. Anyone entering the building for pick-up must not be experiencing any symptoms or illness.

    If your child(ren) is experiencing any symptoms or tests positive, please notify your child’s building principal and do not send your child to school.

    Updated Guidance from the Department of Health
    We received additional guidance from the Department of Health earlier today and are currently reviewing it. We hope to provide specific updates to our district community tomorrow.

    Putnam County COVID-19 Testing
    The Putnam County Department of Health is offering COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at several locations throughout the country for residents. Additional information is available on the PCDOH website 

    Putnam County has special testing hours for students and staff that are symptomatic and/or have been exposed: 

    • COVID-19 Testing Centers: Open to Residents of Putnam County Only
      • School Children & School Staff Only
        • Monday – Friday, 6-9 a.m., Paladin Center, 39 Seminary Hill Rd., Carmel
        • Monday – Friday, 6-9 a.m., Philipstown Recreation Center, 107 Glenclyffe, Garrison
      • All Ages
        • Daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Paladin Center
        • Daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Philipstown Recreation Center
    • PCDOH COVID-19 Testing & Vaccination Schedule: January 2022

    Keeping our buildings, students and staff safe and healthy is a priority, and we will continue to keep you updated to the best of our ability. 

    Sincerely, 

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
  • January 3, 2022

    Dear Carmel Families,

    To slow the transmission of COVID-19 into schools, the New York State Department of Health has provided schools districts with at-home rapid antigen test kits to distribute to its families and staff.

    Carmel Central School District has received a shipment of test kits which are being made available to each district family. The number of test kits given to each family will depend on the number of students in the family who attend one of the five schools in our district.

    At-home COVID-19 test kits will be available for families to pick up at the Carmel Central School District Administrative Office (81 South Street, Patterson, NY, 12563) on Tuesday, January 4, 8-10 a.m. and 6-8 p.m., and Wednesday, January 5, 8-10 a.m. and 6-8 p.m.

    When picking up the at-home test kits, families are asked to enter the building using the lower-level double doors that face South Street. Masks are required for anyone entering the building. Families will be asked to provide the name(s) of district students in order to receive their test kit(s).

    It is recommended that the test kits are used when your child(ren) are experiencing symptoms. Parents can opt to test their child prior to entering school as a means of screening. Please note that this is completely optional, and the district does not require the test prior to school entry. 

    If your child(ren) is experiencing any symptoms or tests positive, please notify your child’s building principal and do not send your child to school.

    Putnam County Test to Stay Update
    Due to the increase of cases in the county, Putnam County Department of Health is pivoting to testing any symptomatic student or school staff rather than initiating test to stay at this point.

    Putnam County COVID-19 Testing
    The Putnam County Department of Health is offering COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at several locations throughout the country for residents. Additional information is available on the PCDOH website 

    Putnam County has special testing hours for students and staff that are symptomatic and/or have been exposed: 

    • COVID-19 Testing Centers: Open to Residents of Putnam County Only
      • School Children & School Staff Only
        • Monday – Friday, 6-9 a.m., Paladin Center, 39 Seminary Hill Rd., Carmel
        • Monday – Friday, 6-9 a.m., Philipstown Recreation Center, 107 Glenclyffe Dr., Garrison
      • All Ages 
        • Daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Paladin Center 
        • Daily, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Philipstown Recreation Center 

    We continue to monitor the ever-changing COVID-19 status in the local community and in our district, and any possible impacts it may have on our student and staff attendance over the coming days. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding and remind our entire community to be prepared for any changes that may result.

    Keeping our buildings, students and staff safe and healthy is a priority, and we will continue to update you as soon as possible if anything changes.

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
  • January 2, 2022

    Dear Carmel Parents/Guardians & Students,

    Over the past few days, our administrative team has continued to monitor the current COVID-19 status in the local community and any effects that it may have in our student attendance and staffing this week. The safety of our students and staff is a top priority and remains central in all our planning and decision making. We recognize the importance of in-person education for our students' academic and mental wellbeing, and we are all committed to keeping schools open. At this time, our plan to welcome our students and staff back in person to our buildings on Monday, January 3, still remains.

    As we prepare to return to our schools tomorrow, we want to ensure that parents/guardians, students and staff are aware of the following updates:

    Health & Safety Reminders
    As a reminder, helping ensure our district stays healthy and safe starts at home. We need your help as our first line of defense in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on our district. We ask that you please do not send your child(ren) to school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses.

    Test To Stay
    The Putnam County Department of Health continues to work to create a Test to Stay initiative plan that has begun being used in other local counties. At this time, a formalized plan has not been shared by the Department of Health. As soon as we have the most up-to-date information, we will send it to all staff and parents.

    COVID-19 Home Tests from NY State
    We received notification that the home test kits will arrive in the District on Monday, January 3. We are still working to determine how to distribute the tests and will update you as we have more information to share.

    This week we will continue to monitor the absence rate of staff and students. Elementary students who are COVID positive or quarantined will have an option to be remote beginning on Tuesday. Building principals and elementary teachers will provide additional details on Monday.

    Thank you for your cooperation as we work to keep our schools safe and open.

    Sincerely,

    Mary-Margaret Zehr
    Superintendent of Schools

    Superintendent of Schools
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