South Orangetown Central School District

Dear South Orangetown Families,

It has been nearly a year since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our school district community and our world. Over the past ten months, we have worked hard to adjust and adapt in response to evolving circumstances and changing guidance. I am proud of what we have accomplished together, but look forward to the day when we can safely return to full-time, in-person learning.

In the meantime, we’ve been examining in-person student attendance data to determine whether it would be possible to extend full-time opportunities to more students. By mid-fall, we were able to invite students with individualized education plans (IEPs) and those receiving English as a New Language services to attend school on a full-time basis while maintaining pandemic health and safety guidelines. Students with 504 Plans have also been invited to return full-time.

Currently, 75% of all students district-wide are registered as in-person hybrid learners: William O. Schaefer Elementary School (86%), Cottage Lane Elementary School (83%), South Orangetown Middle School (73%) and Tappan Zee High School (64%).

To date, we have allowed flexibility for families to change how their children participate in hybrid learning with the caveat that transitioning from fully-remote to in-person learning could potentially take up to 30 calendar days. We are reconsidering this practice in order to make classroom seats available so that in-person students who are struggling may attend school full-time.

Our schools have conducted capacity audits to determine the number of seats available in each class. The number of available seats across individual classes vary. Available seats will be offered to current in-person hybrid learners in grades K-8 with demonstrated need according to academic, behavioral and social emotional indicators. Tappan Zee High School students who have failed or are currently failing multiple classes will be eligible to attend school in-person on a full-time basis, space permitting.

Please keep in mind that New York State Education Department and New York State Health Department guidelines have not changed; we cannot exceed our 50% in-person, socially distanced capacity.

Over the next two weeks, our schools will be contacting families whose children are eligible to participate in person on a full-time basis. The anticipated start date for full-time attendance for these students is Monday, February 22.

Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to navigate the challenges of this pandemic.


Robert R. Pritchard, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools