Superintendent Blog Post - November 20, 2020

Posted by Victoria Jackson on 11/20/2020

Superintendent Update November 20, 2020

I want to start this update with a huge thank you to all of our staff for making this difficult year work so well for all of our students!  The amount of effort and thought of our faculty and staff that has gone into this year has been amazing.  I also want to thank your families and students for your flexibility, patience, and perseverance! Thank you!

Beacon Plans to Continue with Hybrid-In Person Learning after Thanksgiving

There is a lot of discussion in the region about schools possibly closing during the holiday period due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.  I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that we will continue after Thanksgiving with our Hybrid-In Person reopening plan for students.  

Here are a few reasons why we are continuing with our plan:

  • We believe that our reopening plan is cautious and safe.
  • The county health department has advised us not to close. 
  • The Beacon City School District is currently not in a yellow, orange, or red microcluster area so we do not have to close schools by that standard. The state has a plan for school closures based on monitoring “micro-clusters” by zip code and census tracts and when case rates are over a certain amount labeling them yellow, orange, and red.  If a school or school district is in the yellow zone they can stay open if they test 20% of their students and staff on a weekly basis.  
  • You can read more about it here: Micro Cluster Metric NYS Final

Even with all of that said, we will be closely monitoring COVID-19 in our community and school district on a daily basis.  School closures, like a few weeks ago, may need to happen at any given time.  Here are the reasons we might need to close a school or the district:

  • The number of staff quarantining makes it impossible for us to keep a school open.
  • The health department has advised us to close.
  • The Governor closes schools in our region or the state.

These closures may happen quickly so I will repeat what I have been saying since August, please be prepared for changes at any given time.  

I will host a Reopening Zoom TownHall Monday night (November 23, 2020) at 7:30 to go over all of this and what will happen if we are a yellow, orange, or red microcluster zone.  

I will send a reminder email on Monday but here is the link to the zoom:

https://E2CCB-GST.zoom.us/j/99752368226

Snow/Inclement Weather Days

Despite the arrival of COVID-19 in our lives, we will still have winter weather this year.  This winter season we will use a combination of remote learning days and full closure/no remote learning days to manage the district during this time.  One of the main factors we are dealing with is that due to our school schedules this year we really cannot use a two-hour delay.  If we fully close for all of those days we would risk the chance of having to dramatically alter our calendar (like possibly lose Spring Break).  We also want people to have the “Snow Day” experience after a big storm.  So we will use both.

School Closed/Remote Learning Days will be utilized on days that I would have typically called a two-hour delay in the past.  On those days, students will adhere to a remote learning schedule that will be shared by the school.

School Closed/No Remote Learning will be utilized on days of a significant storm where there is the potential of either power outages which would hamper remote learning or the fact that everyone would be digging out, sledding, building snow forts etc. and not show up for remote learning.

I will make these calls by 5:15am the day of the weather and if I can make them the night ahead I will.  

I fully realize that this is one more thing in a challenging year but we will do our best to make it work.  I also realize that now I get to make two decisions on a weather day which I never would have imagined having to make but I will do my best to make it work as well.

I will monitor this plan the entire winter weather season and if it needs to be revised, I will do that.

Thanksgiving Travel

We will send another reminder about this next week but here are the NY travel restrictions:

https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/11/interm_guidance_travel_advisory.pdf

If you are traveling for the holiday, please review these documents and be aware that you may need to quarantine after returning home.