South Orangetown Central School District

Sent via SchoolMessenger on November 12, 2020

Dear South Orangetown Families,

As you know, we are experiencing a sharp increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in our school district. We’ve received reports of six positive cases across all four buildings in the past 48 hours alone.

Our health, safety and sanitization protocols have been effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 within our schools and, over the past two months, we have been able to transition temporarily to fully-remote learning on a building-specific basis as isolated cases were reported.

However, the increasing frequency and number of positive cases and staff members required to quarantine has begun to exceed our capacity to sustain in-person learning. Positive cases reported this week have resulted in the quarantine of roughly 60 teachers, teaching assistants, teacher’s aides, related service providers, school support staff, custodians and administrators across all four schools and Central Office. This is in addition to 80 existing staff who are out of our buildings due to COVID-19 related accommodations and leaves. In all, this represents over 30% of our total staff. We cannot safely cover in-person staffing needs at this scale. Fortunately, staff members who are not experiencing symptoms may continue to work remotely during their quarantine.

New positive cases were reported at WOS and CLE yesterday, which triggered contact tracing efforts in those buildings.

  • Both buildings were cleaned and sanitized yesterday and were able to reopen today.
  • We are assessing whether WOS and CLE will be able to maintain in-person learning. Conditions are changing on an hour-to-hour basis. We will communicate updated information as determinations are made. Parents are strongly encouraged to identify additional supports in the event that WOS and/or CLE shift to fully-remote learning.

A new positive case was also reported at SOMS yesterday; contact tracing is in progress. SOMS transitioned to fully-remote learning on Tuesday due to another case report.

Due to extensive staffing impacts at SOMS and TZHS resulting from reported cases so far this week, both schools will remain fully remote through the Thanksgiving Recess. Classes will continue virtually as normally scheduled. At this time, we anticipate that students will return in person on Monday, November 30.

  • Meals may be ordered via by noon tomorrow, November 13, for pickup on Monday, November 16, 9AM-Noon, from the South Orangetown Middle School auditorium entrance.
  • TZHS students who participate in Rockland BOCES CTEC and CSP programs will participate remotely through the Thanksgiving Recess.
  • Fall high school sports teams continue to practice and compete at this point. However, student-athletes and coaches who are quarantined may not participate and all COVID-19 health and safety protocols remain in place. Winter pre-season workouts are suspended.
  • Buildings will communicate directly with families regarding supply pick up times, if needed.

Regardless of whether students are in-person or fully-remote, we need families to report if their children receive a positive COVID-19 test.

  • Between 8AM-8PM on days when school is in session, parents/guardians must report a positive COVID-19 test result by sending an email to
  • During weekends, holidays and between 8PM-8AM on days when school is in session, parents/guardians must report a positive COVID-19 test result by calling (845) 721-6083.

Whether reporting via email or phone, parents/guardians must provide the following information:

  • Full name of student who has tested positive
  • Student date of birth
  • Student school and grade
  • Date COVID-19 test was taken
  • Information regarding whether the student attended school in-person and/or participated in athletics pre-season workouts, practices or games within two (2) days prior to the date that the COVID-19 test was taken.

Now more than ever, we need your help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please read my October 23 blog post about mitigating risk during the holiday season.

Thank you for your continued support,

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