I hope you and your family are staying healthy. As a parent, I know that what we experienced at the end of this past school year was unprecedented and difficult. I am extremely proud of the work that staff and students did during remote learning this spring in a setting that was less than educationally ideal.
Taconic Hills staff is actively preparing for the 2020-2021 school year. We are committed to creating a teaching and learning plan that follows the guidance of the Governor’s and state education department’s upcoming recommendations. We have not received specific guidance about opening in the fall from NYSED yet, but we will follow recommendations from the CDC and NYS Department of Health (DOH) to inform our reopening plans. Currently we are reviewing guidance from other states education and health departments to give us an idea of what we might be able to accomplish in the Fall.
Many medical experts and health organizations are predicting a possible second wave of COVID-19 for the fall that could vary in severity from region to region in our country. It is highly likely that our plan will be required to provide flexibility to address the needs of our students and staff in an on and off campus setting. It is anticipated that the school day and student experience will look different this upcoming year. Please be assured that safety for students and staff in our learning community is our highest priority.
The logistics of redesigning the school experience for the fall to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff is complex - ranging from transportation and classroom design to meals and teaching pedagogy. We plan on reaching out to parents and students to gather additional information in an advisory task group that will inform our decision making. We expect that a formalized plan will be due to the state in late July.
I am extremely concerned that we need a strong start to the new school year so that every day, every student can and will be successful. We will do everything we can to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff while in our buildings and that students do not lose any instructional opportunities as a result of these uncertain times.
There are three scenarios for this fall that we are taking into consideration:
The first scenario is a situation where all students are on campus, with increased safety precautions and restrictions on in-person gatherings or other limitations.
In this scenario, we are in a fully remote learning environment. For next school year the expectations will be that new content will be taught, students will be accountable for participating in their classes and they will be assessed on their proficiency of their knowledge and understanding of the content. More structure will be established for each week and within each day. A set schedule would be followed.
In this scenario, schools would be open and we would follow the guidance of the New York State Education Department(NYSED), with our students potentially participating in a blended or hybrid type schedule with the possibility to have half or a quarter of the students physically in the building at a given time, potentially on certain days of a week, to ensure appropriate physical distancing and the implementation of enhanced safety protocols.
We must be adaptable for a seamless transition to fully remote learning in the event we are not allowed to have in-person instruction for September or at any point during the school year.
Knowing that we may move between scenarios, we want to develop a plan that also in a consistent manner supports families and provide academic rigor and social-emotional support for students and staff.
Thank you for supporting your child’s learning and being a partner with us as we inspire all learners to achieve extraordinary success.
Dr. Neil L. Howard, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools
Taconic Hills Central School District