March 11, 2020
Dear South Orangetown Families and Staff,
As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the New York metropolitan area continues to increase, our District has been in frequent contact with the Rockland County Department of Health (RCDOH) and school districts across our region. While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our District, the RCDOH reports that there are six confirmed cases in Rockland County as of this morning.
Based on these conversations and, as updated guidance from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has become available, our District team has refined our protocols and identified additional precautionary steps to safeguard the health of our school community and further minimize opportunities for COVID-19 transmission.
FACILITIES CLEANING & USE
The District has added custodial shifts to comprehensively clean and disinfect all schools on a continuing basis throughout the school day and each evening. Effective Friday, March 13, all school buildings will close at 5:00 PM on weekdays and remain closed on weekends for necessary cleaning and disinfection of school buildings until further notice.
Further, the District is suspending new facilities use requests by external organizations until further notice. Please note that our fields will remain open and in use without access to our school buildings.
The District has instructed all transportation vendors to disinfect buses on a daily basis.
With CDC guidance on social distancing measures in mind, our administrators have reviewed school trips and public events scheduled up to the start of Spring Recess (April 9) according to three criteria: Is this essential? Does it allow for social distancing? Does it interfere with comprehensive cleaning schedules? Determinations are as follows:
Will Run as Scheduled
- Board of Education Meetings (March 12, April 1–rescheduled from March 24–and April 7)
- Kindergarten Registration Assistance (March 18 and March 20)
- 9th Annual Flying Dutchmen 5K outdoor event only; no building access (March 21)
- 2nd Grade Stage Left “Aladdin” Performances for students only; no public attendance – will be live-streamed (March 23, 25, 26, 27, 31)
- 4th Grade Publishing Party for students only; no public attendance (April 1)
- TZHS ACT Exam (April 4)
Plan to Reschedule
- 7th/8th Grade “Frozen” Musical Trip (March 11)
- TZHS Multicultural Show (March 13)
- 8th Grade “Call of the Wild” Trip (March 16)
- TZHS-SOMS Reflections Reception (March 25)
- Tom Kersting/“Disconnected” Presentation (March 31)
- SOMS Incoming Gr. 6 Parent/Student Orientation (April 2)
- 7th Grade Bronx Zoo Trip (April 7)
- We the People (March 14)
- FEC Playgroups (March 18 and April 1)
- CPSE Safety Net Program (March 19, March 26, April 2)
- Community Blood Drive (March 19)
- SOCES PTA Meeting (March 19)
- K-5 Family Math Night (March 19)
- FEC Parent Workshop: Nurturing Self-Confidence (March 23)
- TZHS PTSA Meeting (March 25)
- SOCES Family Fun Night (March 27)
- FEC Family Night Under the Stars (March 30)
- TZHS-SOMS Reflections Reception (March 25)
To Be Determined
- SOMS Spring Musical (March 20-22)
- TZHS Spring Musical (March 27-29)
- TZHS Interact Theatre Cafe (March 29)
Continuing Education classes are currently under review; a follow-up communication will be sent with additional information, if needed.
All international student trips have been cancelled/postponed.
Although Spring Recess is a few weeks away, please keep in mind that the NYSDOH March 9 School (PreK-12) Guidance: COVID-19 applies to personal travel: “Students and faculty returning from currently impacted countries or regions of impacted countries will be required to be under precautionary quarantine for 14 days upon return.”
Our team is communicating regularly to prepare for potential contingencies. We have begun planning for alternative delivery of lessons and activities to students in the event that one of our schools be directed to close by the RCDOH. The District is also coordinating an emergency contract with our food service vendor to support breakfast and lunch provision for our most vulnerable families should we have a prolonged closure. Plans are also in place for continuity of business operations, if needed.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Our staff continue to promote and support preventative hygiene practices, as recommended by the NYSDOH and RCDOH. Please:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home while sick and avoid close contact with others.
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow rather than hands.
- Encourage your children to follow these best practices for health and wellness.
In addition, the CDC has posted guidance to help families prepare for COVID-19; view it here. For questions regarding COVID-19, please call the NYSDoH information hotline at 1-888-364.3065. Thank you for your continued support as we work to navigate this very dynamic situation in the best interests of our students, staff and community.
Robert R. Pritchard
Superintendent of Schools