A monthly update to the Monticello community from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Matthew Evans.
All Monticello CSD schools were closed for remote instruction on December 15 due to social media threats of school violence directed at our schools. Two posts were made in the early morning hours; an additional post was made on the evening of December 15.
By 11:00 PM on December 15, law enforcement had engaged with the individuals who allegedly made these posts and determined that no credible threats existed towards our schools. Law enforcement is arresting those allegedly involved; we will effect any appropriate discipline as detailed in our Code of Conduct for any Monticello student who was involved, including but not limited to suspension from school.
While reports of these threats were troubling for many, the coordination among community members, school staff, and law enforcement promptly addressed these threats. It was the swift reporting by responsible parents, students, and staff that allowed law enforcement to identify and intervene with the suspects.
Reporting matters, and many students, parents, and staff contacted school administrators and law enforcement upon seeing these posts. If you see or receive any threats of school violence, please report them immediately to law enforcement or a school official (during the school day).
We also ask that parents and caregivers discuss the potential consequences of posting and reposting threats of school violence on social media. Even if the post lacks credibility, it can still lead to potential arrest and criminal charges, as well as disciplinary action in school. Law enforcement and the school district take every post seriously to keep our schools and students safe.
As a district, we continue with our emergency response drills. In addition to evacuation drills, our schools regularly conduct lockdown and lockout drills. We also continue to dialogue directly with law enforcement agencies in our planning and preparedness.
We will be enhancing our digital citizenship curricula to address social media posts that threaten school violence, and the ramifications for students if they do so. More information on this will be published in January 2022.
On behalf of the Monticello Central School District, I sincerely thank all the law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s office for their tireless efforts during these investigations. And I also thank the students, parents, and staff who had the courage to report these threatening posts.
COVID-19 Mitigation and Prevention
Sullivan County’s transmission rates of COVID-19 continue to increase. According to Sullivan County Public Health Services (SCPHS), a record number of residents are presently COVID-19 positive, with a seven-day average of 78 cases per 100,000 residents (December 19, 2021). In the period of December 3 to December 17, 2021, 20 Monticello CSD students and staff were diagnosed with COVID-19, resulting in the quarantining of 103 students and staff who were close contacts in school.
Vaccinated individuals who are determined to be close contacts are not quarantined unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Sullivan County Public Health Services (SCPHS) has not implemented a “test-to-stay” (TTS) protocol that would allow quarantining close contacts the ability to test (negative) and be able to report to school. New York State Department of Health “does not recommend TTS.” In addition, in order to implement it SCPHS would need to guarantee that individuals in all Sullivan County schools would have equal access to TTS.
We are reminding everyone to stay home and seek medical attention if they are symptomatic. Face coverings are required at all times while inside schools except for meal breaks and when playing wind instruments. Mask breaks may only occur while one is eating or if they are outside.
To monitor daily updates on COVID-19 data in Monticello CSD schools, please go to https://schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov/#/home.
Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases and the requirements imposed on schools by the New York State Department of Health, student winter events are proceeding as planned. We are allowing for limited public attendance at these events (e.g., athletic competitions, concerts, and performances). In most instances, student performers and athletes are given up to four (4) guest passes that they may distribute as they see fit. Guests are required to have their temperatures screened, be free of symptoms, maintain social distancing, and wear face coverings while indoors.
Happy Holidays from the Monticello Central School District
I hope all of you have a very happy and healthy holiday season, and that 2022 brings you much joy and happiness! Please enjoy our holiday greetings video, below.