The following letter was sent to East Greenbush Central School District families from Superintendent Jeff Simons on Friday, December 18.
Dear Families, As we approach the holiday recess, the East Greenbush Central School District would like to thank you for your cooperation with our reopening health and safety procedures this fall and the continued adjustments families are making daily during this time. Despite the challenges, we are proud to see our entire school community come together – students, staff and families – to ensure our schools remain safe and to provide educational opportunities to our students.
Our safety measures have been effective. As cases increase, our schools have not been the sources of COVID-19 infection spread among our students or our staff. Based on low infection rates in our schools, the advice of health experts and available statistics, our schools are among the safest places to be right now. However, there are a number of factors which have developed in recent weeks related to COVID-19 which have forced the very difficult decision that East Greenbush Central School District will switch to live virtual instruction for all students for each day during the shortened week next week prior to holiday recess, December 21-December 23.
These factors include:
- Increases in staff absences due to COVID-19 related considerations (quarantines, awaiting test results, family sickness) in all buildings which affects the delivery of instruction and the supervision of students
- While teachers are working remotely in several cases to instruct students, staff members are still needed to supervise the students in the classrooms on in-person instruction days
- Some classes are unable to be covered by certified teachers or available substitute teachers
- Increases in student absences since Thanksgiving due to contact tracing and the resulting quarantines of students
- Student absences from school are also increasing as more families are voluntarily keeping students home based on the concerns regarding COVID-19. This is increasing the number of students receiving virtual or remote instruction within the district affecting instructional delivery
- Limited availability of substitute teachers, bus drivers and support staff to operate schools effectively
All students will follow their normal Live Virtual Wednesday schedule on Monday, December 21; Tuesday, December 22; and Wednesday, December 23. The district plans to resume our normal hybrid model effective January 4 unless otherwise announced as we monitor developments related to COVID-19 and its impact on our students and our employees.
By switching to live virtual instruction next week, teachers who may otherwise be out due to COVID issues (quarantined, awaiting a test result, caring for their own child who is home due to a closure in a neighboring school district) to teach remotely, thus improving the consistency and quality of instruction during this period. It will also reduce the likelihood of more students, family members and staff members being in contact with a positive case and subject to a mandatory quarantine order over the holidays.
Any family that needs a student meal on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday can order online by Sunday, December 20. The meals can be picked up at the student’s school on Monday, December 21 between 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Parents/guardians picking up student meals will be asked to provide identifying information for the student, including the student’s Full name, ID number or teacher’s name. Parents/guardians picking up meals at the distribution locations will be asked to adhere to all personal safety recommendations, including social distancing and wearing a face mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Greenbush Child Caring has some availability on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in their full day child care program at St. Mary’s for families who are already registered with GCC. If interested, please call 518-477-4125 or visit gbccinc.org.
The current full day program operating at Genet Elementary School on Wednesdays will be open on Wednesday for any children who currently attend this site.
Monitoring COVID-19 Over Holiday Recess
The district will continue to monitor infection rates and the cases of COVID-19 that are reported for our students and staff over the next two weeks. We ask you to report any COVID-19 symptoms your children experience to our COVID-19 Coordinator Karen Vincent at VincentKa@egcsd.org. This will help in our planning for when school resumes in January.
We appreciate your forthcoming communication and assistance in keeping the community healthy, whether that is filling out the daily COVID Health Screening Form, keeping your children home when they are sick, notifying us of positive COVID results or responding to contact tracing phone calls.
This has been a long and challenging year for everyone. While we see light at the end of the tunnel and hope for a better 2021, this pandemic has not ended. Health experts have said this is a critical time with cold weather moving people indoors and holiday gatherings approaching. It is possible our community will experience a surge upon surge in positive COVID-19 cases. Please remember and adhere to all prevention guidelines – avoid large and small group gatherings, wear face masks in public, maintain social distancing with others, and wash hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly. These guidelines are the best way to prevent spread in and out of the home.
We also ask you to carefully consider your potential holiday plans and reduce risk as much as possible.
Virtual Public Forum – Monday, December 21
I invite you to join our virtual public forum on Monday, December 21 at 7 p.m. We will discuss this decision to switch to live virtual instruction as well as other topics, provide COVID-19 updates and answer any questions.
Once again, thank you for your commitment to our health and safety procedures. We appreciate your continued support of our school district.
Superintendent of Schools