March 13, 2020
Dear South Orangetown Families and Staff,
As federal and state officials implement increasingly restrictive measures in an effort to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that we have a social responsibility to exercise a strategy of containment to protect our school community.
This morning, my Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents (LHCOSS) colleagues and I met with representatives from the New York State Board of Regents, New York State Department of Education and state legislators to call for a statewide shutdown of our K-12 public schools and a waiver of the 180-day (900/990-hour) minimum instructional requirement for State Aid. At the same time, the LHCOSS Executive Committee participated in a phone conference with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office to urge his immediate action.
I am hopeful that the officials in Albany understand the urgency of our request and will respond swiftly. In the meantime, the South Orangetown Central School District is rescheduling the Superintendent’s Conference Day originally planned for March 20 to this Monday, March 16. This will allow our staff to prepare for the potential of an extended school closure due to COVID-19. Further, we will utilize our two remaining snow days (originally scheduled for April 8 and April 20) on Tuesday, March 17 and Wednesday, March 18. Schools will be closed for students from Monday, March 16 through Wednesday, March 18. There will be no sports or student activities during this period. All previously-scheduled parent meetings, including CSE meetings, will be postponed.
It is our expectation that State officials will take decisive action by early next week. This is a rapidly evolving situation and we encourage families to prepare for the possibility of an extended closure. Our District is working diligently to support the continued academic, nutritional and social emotional needs of our students should this occur. Counseling support will remain available for students and families and may be accessed via a single contact phone number: (845) 680-1614. Our administrative team is evaluating all options should the State not provide the requested relief in a timely manner.
I recognize the significant challenges that a sudden schedule change creates for our students, families and staff. These are unprecedented times. A public health crisis of this scale requires a vigorous and coordinated response.
As our District moves to take action, rest assured that we will provide detailed information to our families and staff as decisions are made. Please visit the Coronavirus Information page posted on www.socsd.org under Quick Links for details regarding District contacts, resources for families and updated school event information.
Robert R. Pritchard
Superintendent of Schools