Q&A

scheduling, spring break

Q: When will schools reopen for students?

A: We don’t know. Governor Cuomo announced on March 27 that all schools in NYS will remain closed through April 15. He further announced that he will reassess again before that date to determine if a longer closing is necessary. Our teachers are prepared to continue distance learning for as long as necessary. We miss our students and hope to see them again soon.

Q: What will happen to Spring Break?

A: In his effort to mitigate the ongoing health crisis, Governor Cuomo has directed that all schools are to provide continuity of learning through the scheduled spring break. KLSD will meet the Governor’s directive and will provide continuity of learning, as well as access to meals and childcare, throughout the week of April 6. We will approach the week mindful of the varied needs of our students, families, and staff, and of the stress of recent days. In addition, we will be mindful of the significant religious observances that occur during the week. Flexibility will be provided, and no student will be penalized for the observance of a religious holiday. More details will follow from your individual schools.

distance learning

Q: Can we expect to see changes in the distance learning experience for students?

A: The experience will undoubtedly evolve as our staff learn more about the capabilities of the digital tools and platforms we are using and as we learn more about whether this will be a short- or long-term experience. We appreciate all the feedback we’ve been receiving from families as well as from our Parent Council (the parent leaders of all our schools’ PTOs). In the coming days, we expect to run some feedback sessions with students at each school level, so that we can hear directly from them what’s working and what isn’t.

Much of the feedback falls into a few thematic categories: the pacing of work, instruction vs. independent activities, more opportunity to engage with teachers, greater clarity around the structure and expectations of the school day, and support for parents so they can best support their children. We’re very much aware of questions that need to be addressed in each of these areas and we’re working to address them now.

As much as I hope this closure is not through the rest of the year and that our students are back in school soon, I also hope for a level of certainty in the near future. The uncertainty presents a number of logistical challenges. Nonetheless, be assured that all our staff are working to provide the very best experiences we can for your children at home. At the same time, we will remain mindful of the different environments at home, different access to technology, different levels of adult support, and different daily stressors due to health, work, and other factors.

We hope families are taking advantage of the resources on our website (They are continually evolving). The site already includes resources for parents on how to use and navigate some of the digital tools our teachers and students are using.

Q: Is it OK if my child isn’t focused on schoolwork throughout the hours of the regular school day?

A: Yes. Please remember that while children are in school, socializing, playing, and eating are vital parts of each and every day. The same is true at home, particularly during stressful times. Please encourage your child to spend some time outside each day, safely of course. Breaks, exercise, and food are all incredibly important. I hope your children are finding ways to socialize with their friends, remotely.

grading

Q: How are children being graded and have decisions been made regarding grading for quarters, semesters, and the school year?

A: Our initial guidance to teachers was to mark student work for completion rather than for grades, and to provide windows of time (rather than hard deadlines) for completion. We don’t want our students feeling undue stress due to circumstances they cannot control (a working parent, for example, who needs access to the one shared device at home, or an ongoing health concern at home).

We know that some students (particularly at secondary levels) benefit from the motivation of graded work. We know that some of our teachers are grading work, if only as a means of providing feedback on particular assignments. We’re OK with individual teachers making decisions that make sense within the framework of their classes. Our teachers know that, ultimately, larger decisions about grades will be made at the school and district level.

While our administrators are giving thought to how quarter, semester, and final grades will be handled, we will wait a little longer so that those decisions can be better informed (by knowledge of how the rest of year will unfold and by additional regulatory guidance from our State Education Department). What I can share here is the principle that will guide our decision making. No student should face long-term negative academic consequences due to the incredibly unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves. As soon as we have firm decisions, we will share them.

In the meantime, I ask all our families to keep encouraging your children to take their schoolwork as seriously as the situation at home allows. Students should be doing their best to keep up with assignments and doing them to the best of their ability. At the same time, let’s help them maintain a healthy balance and perspective. They should be getting plenty of rest, eating well, taking breaks, and enjoying time with their families.

state tests, SAT and Act

Q: What is happening with State Tests this year?

A: All NYS State tests, with the exception of Regents Exams, have been cancelled for this year. We are waiting for word on the Regents Exams, and as soon as we learn more, we’ll share that information. In the meantime, for those few classes that culminate in a Regents Exam, teachers will be preparing their students.

Q: What is happening with AP exams and SATs this year?

A: The College Board is maintaining a comprehensive website with information regarding all the necessary changes for this year. It can be found here.

Q: What about ACT exams?

A: The ACT is maintaining up to date information about its exams here.

Board of Education, School meals, Childcare for Healthcare workers, Facilities

Q: Are Board of Education meetings happening while school is closed?

A: Yes, our Board still needs to conduct business important to the running of our District. Meetings are happening remotely and are still being publicly advertised in the same manner as our traditional meetings. Community members are welcome to watch our meetings via Zoom and will have the ability to submit questions to our BOE. More information can be found here on our Board of Education website.

Q: Is the School District providing meals for students while closed?

A: Yes. Grab and Go lunches and snacks are distributed on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays at the entrance to John Jay High School from 11:30 to 1:30. On those days, enough meals are provided to last for the period between each distribution day. Please contact Andy Waild at the Katonah-Lewisboro Food and Nutrition Office at 914-763-7308 with any questions. Please check our website for changes and updates

Q: Is the District providing childcare to the children of essential workers (such as health care workers and first responders).

A: The District is working to make this childcare available and expects to have its program up and running soon. If you think you may be eligible for this program, please email childcare@klschools.org. In the email, please provide your name, the names and ages of the children you plan to register, the days and hours you anticipate needing childcare, your employer, and a way for us to verify your employment.

Q: Are the school’s outdoor facilities open while school is closed?

A: We have tried hard to stress the importance of social distancing in light of the current health crisis. As a result, our fields, playgrounds, and courts are NOT open to groups. There should be no team games of any kind. Our town supervisors have indicated that they will enforce the current emergency orders if necessary. I hope it isn’t necessary. Playground equipment should not be touched as it is not being sanitized while we are closed. Facilities such as our track, however, are open for solitary exercise. As noted earlier, getting outside is important and we hope the community will access our resources in healthy and socially responsible ways.