Message from Superintendent Dr. Evans re: expanding in-person opportunities in April

Dear Monticello CSD Community Member,

I hope this finds you well and hopeful for the onset of spring.

As many of you aware, the district has been developing plans to increase in-person learning opportunities for students. We are also seeking safe ways to increase the number of in-person instruction days available to students. This is all in response to several developments:

  • A growing knowledge of the lack of in-school transmission of COVID-19
  • The vaccinations of all interested Monticello CSD staff members
  • Increasing concerns on the interruption of healthy childhood/adolescent development during school closures

Beginning on April 14, 2021, we are tentatively planning to have some students return to in-person learning in their schools on Wednesdays. All MCSD schools are presently planning and scheduling in-person sessions for students on Wednesdays.

The elementary schools are also exploring the possibility of ending their hybrid schedules (cohorts A/B) and moving students into either cohort C (in person every day) or D (remote instruction every day). We are surveying elementary school parents on their preference of these two options. Elementary teachers emailed this survey to all elementary parents earlier today. If you did not receive it, please contact your child’s teacher as soon as possible. The revised schedules will depend on the responses and feedback received, as well as the logistical challenges posed in terms of personnel and space, so it is critical that you complete this survey by Tuesday, March 23. We have tentatively identified April 12 to start this transition.

Robert J. Kaiser Middle School has established additional periods for hybrid students to attend school on days they would have been remote. Though not direct instruction, teachers and paraprofessionals are able to check on student progress and address their concerns in school. These are in addition to students’ regularly scheduled in-person days of instruction.

Monticello High School will be expanding its in-person direct instruction programs to host classes for targeted 9th and 12th grade students. They will target at-risk students in these grades, initially, and extend invitations to other students as space permits. It is planning to begin these sessions on April 19, 2021.

On March 19, the Centers for Disease Control updated its “Operational Strategy for K–12 Schools.” This updated guidance allows for a reduction of social distancing between students in schools from six (6) feet to three (3) feet, while in classrooms. However, since the New York State Department of Health’s Reopening New York guidance still requires six (6) feet of social distancing in all school settings, we are required to abide by it. We will continue to do so unless NYSDOH updates its guidance.

While we are optimistic that we can increase the amount of in-person instruction—in numbers of students and weekly contact/attendance time—we are also mindful of the continued rates of “high transmission” in Sullivan County. According to the CDC, our schools are in a “high transmission” zone because there were 199 new COVID-19 cases in the past seven (7) days (or a rate of 264 cases per 100,000 residents).

I appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to confront these challenges, and I am grateful for the efforts made by all to keep schools open and engaging. It is now time to build upon what we have learned to make better experiences for our kids.

If you have questions on the program improvements in your child’s school, please contact it directly.

Thank you and stay well.

Matthew T. Evans, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools