Dear Tamarac students, parents and caretakers,
I hope this communication finds you and your family happy and healthy. What a different school year we have had and, with reflection, we have much to be proud of during this unprecedented time. That being said, the work does not stop as we have a lot of planning still to do. Our staff is actively preparing for the 2020-2021 school year. I am extremely proud of the work that staff and students did during remote learning this spring in a setting that was very different and not the optimal experience that we strive to provide. As we shift to preparing for the 2020-2021 school year, we are committed to creating a plan that follows the guidance of the Governor and NYS Department of Education’s (NYSED) pending recommendations as well as Department of Health (DOH) guidance.
My purpose of this correspondence is to share with you what I know and what we are doing to prepare for any scenario that we may be faced with as we are scheduled to return in September.
As of this date, I am still waiting for final guidance from New York State. In this time we can hypothesize what it might be like by reviewing reopening plans from other states and also the Department of Health’s guidance for summer school.
As I’m sure you know, many medical experts and health organizations are predicting a second wave of COVID-19 for the fall and then perhaps another wave in the winter. As a result, we must create a plan that provides flexibility to address the needs of our students and staff in both an in-person and remote setting. Given the current information, the Tamarac school day and student experience will definitely look different this upcoming year. Our top priority is to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone in our school community.
There are three primary scenarios for this fall that we are exploring:
Scenario 1: Traditional school with safety precautions
The first scenario is a situation where we are open for school pre-k through 12, with increased safety precautions and no restrictions on in-person gatherings or other limitations. I honestly do not know if this is a possibility at this time. Please note that this is not a local decision, but rather a local plan for safety.
Scenario 2: Remote Instruction
In this scenario, we are in a fully remote learning environment. For the 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 the proficiency of their knowledge and understanding of the content. More structure, including social-emotional support, will be established for each week and within each day.
Scenario 3: Hybrid
Schools would be open; however, we would be limited in the number of students and staff in the building at one time. In this scenario, we would follow the guidance of the New York State Education Department, with our students potentially participating in a blended or hybrid type schedule with half or a quarter of the students physically in the building at a given time to ensure required physical distancing and the implementation of enhanced safety protocols. We have not yet received specific guidance about opening in the fall from NYSED, but we will follow recommendations from the CDC and NYSDOH in reference to any health situation that would require this type of change, at any point during the year, to format our reopening plans.
To plan for these scenarios, we have formed a task force to explore the following areas.
3. Student and Staff Social-Emotional Well-being
4. Continuity of Instruction / Remote Learning
Additionally, we are working in collaboration with Rensselaer County Department of Health and the Questar III Health and Safety department to develop plans to address:
● Face Covering
● Facility Sanitation
● Social Distancing
○ Common areas
○ School buses
● Health Screening
The process of revising the traditional school experience for the fall, in order to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff, is challenging and complex to say the least. Challenges range from how to make sure healthy students are transported, redesigning instructional spaces, melding instructional practices with technology, as well as ensuring our students are on target to meet their instructional goals. In an effort to prepare, we put out a survey to parents. If you haven’t had a chance to respond, you can find this survey at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScG7ejicR704EV1aRETIWxbfkzwb9IwA89ROnJeKS32l08aSw/viewform?usp=sf_link
We do plan on reaching out to parents and students one more time to gather additional information that will inform our decision making. That will likely occur in later July.
I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to have a great start to the school year so that every day, every one of our students can be successful and have the best educational experience possible. As your superintendent, you have my pledge that I will do everything I can to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff while in our care during these uncertain times.
Thank you for your support and understanding during this challenging time. This is an emotionally charged situation and I understand how hard this has been for you all. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or feedback.
All the best,
Superintendent Angelina Maloney