7.27.20 Our Commitment as a Community

July 27, 2020

Dear KLSD Community,

We continue to have significant challenges before us, but we also have significant opportunity to demonstrate our commitment as a community. Working together, can we balance public health and safety with the important work and joy of returning children to learning in schools this fall? 

From the date we closed schools in mid-March, Westchester County and New York State have made tremendous strides in containing the spread of the virus. As of late last week, the number of active cases in each of the communities whose children we teach had fallen into the single digits. Can we keep them there and drive them all to zero while also bringing students and staff back into our schools? To open in September and to stay open for as long as possible, we will have to work together.

Governor Cuomo has said that he will decide in the first week of August whether schools will open for in-person learning. If allowed to open, our schools and classrooms will be set up following State-provided 6-foot social distancing guidelines. Face coverings will be mandated for all (with the only exceptions being required mask breaks and in individual cases when a doctor indicates an exception is warranted). 

To meet those social distancing requirements, we must significantly reduce the number of students in school each day. We have determined that every student K-12 can be in school for at least two days each week. Some students will be in school more regularly than that. On days at home, all students will learn remotely on schedules that are very similar, if not identical to their in-school schedules. In line with the State’s guidance, students will have substantive daily interactions with their teachers (and their peers), whether they are in school or at home. Attendance will be taken, standards-driven learning expectations will be in place, and social emotional wellness will be a priority for all. 

I know the paragraph above leaves many questions unanswered. By the end of this week, we hope to be able to share more detail about which grade levels will be in-person for how many days. We are planning schedules so that the days of the week on which a student attends school will remain consistent. We hope this will help our families. 

We will discuss our reopening plans with our Board of Education this Thursday evening, and we will post them on our websites on Friday. 

As I’m sure you’re aware, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have issued a travel advisory that requires a 14-day quarantine following return from any of the 31 states or international destinations currently on the list. Assuming we can reopen in September, a required health questionnaire will ask students and staff if they’ve travelled to a state or country on the list in the past 14 days. An answer of yes will prevent entry into school. Please be aware of this as you make your plans towards the end of this summer. 

I hope we can open our schools in September and keep them open. I hope the number of COVID cases continues trending down so as to favorably inform the Governor's decision. It will require a concerted collective community effort. I believe KLSD is up to this challenge. 

To all those community members who have written emails lately to share your thoughts, concerns, and questions about reopening, thank you. Please know that your emails have been read and considered. Please understand that as we focus on developing our plans, it’s not possible to respond in our typical manner. Thank you for your understanding. 

More information will follow soon. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and your families. 

Be safe and be well, 

Andrew Selesnick, Superintendent of Schools