COVID-19 update, March 15

The following email was sent to parents/guardians and staff at 8 p.m., Sunday, March 15:

Good evening Schoharie CSD families and staff,

We’re writing to provide you with some important updates regarding our recently announced school closing.  A two-week school closing is uncharted territory for us. Despite this, we’ve taken this action to help prevent community transmission of the COVID-19 virus and protect the health of our students, staff, and community. Because this is a fluid situation, please frequently check your email and visit our website.

These are challenging times for everyone—our students, their families, our faculty and staff, and our entire Schoharie CSD community.  We fully understand the impact closure will have on all of our families. Please know that we made this decision based on health officials’ recommendations and the knowledge that the health and safety of our students, staff and our community are our highest priorities.

As a reminder:  Schoharie schools will be closed for 2 weeks (March 16-20 and March 23-27).  During this school closing, all co-curricular and extracurricular activities, including all athletics are cancelled.

Here are a few important updates on what this closing means for your child/children and family:

  1. Academics and Instruction: our principals and teachers have been working hard to prepare instructional resources for our students.  Some of our teachers have sent home work already; others have been preparing resources that will be shared with students electronically. 
  2. Technology: many of the resources we are sharing with students require technology (device and internet) to access.  Currently, grades 9 through 12 already have Chromebooks they can take home. We will be expanding our take-home Chromebook program to grades 7 and 8. Parents/guardians of students in grades 7 and 8 may pick up their Chromebook from school on Tuesday, March 17,  between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. In addition, students either have their passwords or they were sent home on Friday. These passwords are used to log into their school accounts.
  3. Food Services: we intend to offer “grab-and-go” meals to students beginning on Tuesday, March 17.  Meals (breakfast and lunch) will be available for pick-up at the elementary school. Information on the “grab-and-go” meals will be sent out to families tomorrow afternoon via email.  Parents (or students) must provide their child’s lunch ID number at the time they pick up meals. Parents will have to call the school in advance in order for us to have a good count on the number of meals needed. We will have more information on this tomorrow. 
  4. Backpack Program: for families participating in our “Backpack Program,” we intend to maintain our backpack program during this extended school closing.  Information on how (and where) families can access this program will be sent via email tomorrow afternoon and posted on our website.
  5. School Offices: our school offices will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow and throughout this extended closure period. We are asking that parents and students refrain from visiting our school (or school grounds), except for when visiting to pick up meals or instructional resources in designated areas.  Instead, we are encouraging parents to email or call with their questions or concerns. We are taking these steps to maintain “social distancing” and protect the safety and welfare of our staff and visitors. 
  6. Website: we’ve created a new link on our website (COVID-19 Information and Resources).  We will be posting our most up-do-date information for students, parents, and staff on this page.  We’ve also included links to state and federal websites with accurate information on the coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Child Care: an extended school closing can present families with a significant challenge when it comes to child care.  The New York State Office of Children and Family Services maintains a website to assist families in accessing child care in our state.  You can get more information at www.ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare.
  8. Talking with Children About COVID-19: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered the following tips/guidelines for talking with children about the coronavirus pandemic:

    Remain calm and reassuring- children react to what you say and how you say it.

    Make yourself available to listen and talk with your children.

    Avoid language that blames others—viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of race, ethnicity, or other factors.

    Pay attention to what children see or hear in the media—too much information on any one topic can cause anxiety, particularly for children.

    Provide children information and answers that are honest and accurate.

    Teach children everyday actions that can reduce the spread of germs, including handwashing, avoiding people who are sick/ill, and properly covering/catching their coughs and sneezes.

  9. If You’ve Traveled: even with our schools now closed for two weeks, it’s important for you to notify your child’s school if you, your child, or another family member travel to high risk exposure areas (inside the USA) or travel outside the country.

These are challenging times for everyone—our students, their families, our faculty and staff, and our entire Schoharie CS community.  We fully understand the impact closure will have on all of our families. Please know that we made this decision based on health officials’ recommendations and the knowledge that the health and safety of our students, staff and our community are our highest priorities.

We will share any further updates with you as soon as possible, both through our SchoolMessenger notification system and on our website at https://www.schoharieschools.org/covid-19-information-and-resources/

We commend our staff for their dedication and professionalism during this pandemic and we extend our thanks to you, our Schoharie CSD families, for your understanding, your flexibility, and your support.

Sincerely,

David Blanchard
Superintendent of Schools