To the families of Tamarac Elementary School,
I hope this update finds you well as we move forward with this school year. I'm very pleased with this school year so far - many things have come together for our students to help us get back on track. Our goal remains to have as much of our school year be driven by in-person instruction as possible. Health issues related to COVID remain, but the measures taken by our students, faculty, staff and community have gone a long way to prevent the disruptions to instruction that typified the last year and a half. I'm a parent, like most of you. I'm an educator by choice, but teaching my own children, at home, while trying to do my "real" job, isn't what I signed up for either! We all agree the best instruction happens in-person, in a school, with peers, technology and educators present as much as possible. It is how most of us learn best.
Still, cases of COVID have arisen in our community, necessitating student quarantines for those unvaccinated, which is, unfortunately, all of our students. We continue to follow COVID guidelines from Rensselaer County and New York State, which means those students identified as cases or contacts do need to quarantine, which will affect school attendance and instruction. This isn't ideal for anyone, but please understand that we want to make the time of remote instruction as tolerable as possible for everyone. Last year, we had teachers dedicated to remote instruction; we don't have that this year. Our in-person classes are bigger than last year, and we are focused on remediating learning gaps and losses from the last two school years now - teachers who were classroom teachers last year have transitioned back to the reading, math or speech specialists they were hired to be. I ask for patience as teachers prepare and plan for students who are quarantined while still being on the job for in-person learners. We do our best to ensure that quarantined students have Chromebooks and chargers at their disposal; teaching assistants will be helping coordinate remote instruction and materials for remote learners, which should speed up assignments and materials getting to students. So, it may take a day or two to get everything together for these materials organized and into the hands of those who need them.
Having a student who is quarantined do an entire day of school work each day is not a realistic expectation for the students or the teacher. Synchronous instruction (having a quarantined student participate, via a meet, with in-person instruction and students in real time) is challenging and usually results in someone (or everyone) having a less than satisfactory experience. Some school activities, such as group reading, work better for synchronous events, and teachers have been trying to coordinate these lessons for their remote learners. I am allowing teachers the professional discretion to develop the most appropriate lessons for their quarantined students. Everyone understands that these lessons are no substitute for in-person learning, but they fill the void a quarantine can create.
As we approach this holiday weekend, please take some time for your kids and your family. The needs for our students are never far from our minds, and they won't be this weekend either, but please enjoy some time away, and focus on what is truly important to all of us.
Sincerely, Rich Pogue
Richard Pogue, Principal
Kelly Onorato, Assistant Principal
Tamarac Elementary School