1. COVID-19 Mitigation and Prevention Plans, 2021–22
On August 5, 2021, the New York State Department of Health informed the public that it would not be issuing any guidance for New York’s school districts on COVID-19 mitigation and prevention for the 2021–22 year. Instead, it left these decisions to local school districts.
My colleagues from Sullivan County and I met with Sullivan County Public Health Services (SCPHS) last week—prior to the NYSDOH announcement—under the belief that we would make our plans once the NYSDOH released its guidance. Since it is no longer doing that, we will continue to meet with SCPHS to ensure that we are taking appropriate actions in the mitigation and prevention of COVID-19 in our schools.
As a district, we plan on drafting an overarching plan that each Monticello CSD school will use as its template for school-specific plans. For example, the district will require face coverings of all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, at all times while inside school facilities and buses. Schools will enact school-specific strategies on the enforcement of this.
Each school will convene its respective building leadership team (BLT) to develop these plans. These teams consist of administrators, faculty, parents, and staff. If you are interested in joining your school’s BLT, please contact your school’s main office for more information.
Schools will share their plans with the community once these plans have been completed. In general, faculty, parents, staff, and students can expect the following when our schools open in September:
- Full-time in-person instruction will be given to all students, K–12. No remote instruction will be provided unless a school/class is closed due to a health or weather emergency; or, if the individual has a 504 accommodation that allows for remote instruction.
- Face coverings are required at all times while inside school facilities and buses, regardless of vaccination status.
- Social distancing of at least three (3) feet between students and staff will be required, with potential greater distancing for music performance and physical education classes.
- Daily temperature screenings of all students and staff will be taken.
- Contact tracing and quarantining will be based on advisement from Sullivan County Public Health Services.
We base these on the current recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s “Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.”
We are exploring additional opportunities for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations for staff and students with SCPHS. At the moment, we will not be requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or testing of staff and students.
COVID Community Forum
At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 24, the district held a community forum to discuss COVID-19 mitigation strategies for the 2021-22 school year. A recording of that forum is available here.
2. Student Equity
We’ve received significant feedback over the past two months regarding our current practices on equity. It has become clear that additional supports, discussions, and training our needed for our school community to have a shared understanding of this issue.
We have created and will be searching for a director of student equity to facilitate this work. The primary responsibilities of this position will be to
a. Develop and execute strategies to address the needs identified in the equity snapshot (June 24, 2021).
b. Enhance stakeholders’ understanding of equity
c. Facilitate the district’s equity task force
d. Coordinate services detailed in the district’s My Brother’s Keeper program
The New York State Education Department defines equity as:
“The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of all groups.
The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically under-served and under-represented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.
At its core, equity requires that we create the opportunity for all students to succeed and thrive in school no matter who they are, where they live, where they go to school, or where they come from.”
Once this individual is appointed, we will schedule community forums and professional development sessions on equity.
3. Preparing Schools and Facilities
Our administration and staff are busily preparing our schools, buses, and facilities for the upcoming school year. Of particular note is the reopening of the St. John Street school for 6th grade students. We are also hiring additional staff members through federal relief funds to provide additional academic and social-emotional learning supports.
We have a number of vacancies for both instructional and non-instructional staff. If you are interested in working for us, please visit our employment page at https://www.monticelloschools.net/district-administration/human-resources/employment/.
A reminder: The first day for students is Wednesday, September 8 for all students!
Please enjoy the rest of your summer!