This has certainly been a challenging year for all of us. We have worked together to overcome many obstacles and we should be proud of all we have achieved. The Valley Central community has shown itself to be resilient, flexible and determined. Our community has been forced to make considerable sacrifices due to COVID-19 and we are grateful for your continued support and encouragement.
It is said that difficult times produce endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. We are very hopeful that under the current circumstances we will be able to bring more students back to in-person learning 5 days a week. We miss our students and we know that they are also missing out on a great deal by not being in the classrooms regularly. We believe our plan can bring more students back in a safe and effective manner.
Since opening in September, the goal of the Valley Central School District has been to provide the greatest amount of in-person learning as possible. Many of our students have been in school 5 days a week since September and we have added to that number each month. Valley Central is one of the only local districts that does not have an asynchronous day, where students have no contact with teachers. We have worked closely with the Orange County Department of Health, our School Medical Director and our District Nurse Coordinator to follow all health and safety guidelines. We are confident that under the current circumstances we can safely and effectively make significant changes to our instructional plan that will greatly benefit our students and our community.
We believe that now is the time to move forward based on the following information:
Vaccinations are more readily available and many of our teachers have begun or finished the vaccination process.
The infection rate in our region continues to decline.
The New York State Department of Health’s guidelines allow for the use of trifold polycarbonate desk partitions in order to provide an extra barrier of protection. We have ordered enough barriers for all buildings.
Valley Central will continue to offer 100% online instruction to those students whose parents request this for the remainder of the year. This reduces the amount of students in the buildings, as approximately 30% of our students have opted for 100% online learning.
The warm weather allows for the bus and classroom windows to remain open at all times, which assists greatly with ventilation. As the spring approaches we will be able to use our outdoor learning spaces more frequently.
Our hybrid method of instruction will be phased out according to the following schedule:
April 12th – All kindergarten through sixth and ninth grade students that have chosen 5 days a week in person learning will begin the new model. There will be no hybrid instruction for K-6 and 9.
April 19th –All seventh and tenth grade students that have chosen 5 days a week in person learning will begin the new model. There will be no hybrid instruction for grades 7 and 10.
April 26th – All eighth, eleventh and twelfth grade students that have chosen 5 days a week in person learning will begin the new model. There will be no hybrid instruction for grades 8,11,and 12.
This schedule is contingent upon the arrival of the polycarbonate desk partitions, which are due to arrive before the end of March.
In order to allow teachers and staff to adequately prepare for the arrival of students for five day a week instruction, we are going to have one recalibration day for elementary staff and one for our secondary staff. Therefore, on Tuesday April 6th, ALL elementary students will participate in asynchronous instruction where teachers will post assignments online and students will learn from home. On Wednesday, April 7th, ALL Middle School and High School students will participate in asynchronous instruction. Teachers will use this time to prepare the classrooms, ensure classlists are correct, answer questions from parents and ensure we are ready for this change in instruction.
Some important facts to remember about the changes:
If you choose 100% online instruction, you will need to remain on this instructional method for the remainder of the 20-21 school year.
If a student in the 5 day a week in-person instructional model is quarantined, they will be able to login to online instruction until the quarantine is over.
If a student is enrolled in 5 day a week in-person instruction and they are absent, they will not be able to login to online instruction. They will be marked absent and provided with the work in the same manner as pre-COVID 19.
In order to make this work, we all must work together and remain vigilant. We must continue wearing masks, washing hands, using sanitizer and be mindful of our distance from each other. Your cooperation and patience will be necessary throughout the remainder of the school year. Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving communication directly from the building principals. Please read this communication carefully as it will answer many of your questions.
As we have said numerous times, the landscape changes quickly in relation to COVID 19. If there are any new guidelines that would change our plan, we will be sure to notify you immediately. We are excited and confident that we can make the remainder of this school year a success and we look forward to working closely with you to make that happen.