September 22, 2020
Dear BKW Community,
Congratulations! We have opened school and managed to find our way with new schedules and digital platforms, and our students have gotten to where they need to be while settling into the new school year. More than 40% of our students are working with some sort of remote platform as part of their learning. It took patience and flexibility for students, parents, and staff to become familiar with the day-to-day applications, while also managing many new health protocols and the typical new school year excitement. I would say, all BKW stakeholders have done a bang-up job! Kudos to all.
During the first full week, several items came into focus for advancing our work, including daily health screening, internet connectivity, and navigating classroom platforms across grade levels. On the daily health attestations, we see some improvement in the response rate, and we want to encourage everyone to be sure to submit each day. We are required to report daily to the State DOH on this data, so cooperation is very important.
I also want to call your attention to a document developed by the County DOH outlining decision making about ill individuals. We have posted it on our COVID resource page on the website. Please review it and understand that the administrators and nurses will be operating with those guidelines in mind when determining when students or staff return from being out of school.
Please also note that if students have any symptoms related to COVID-19, parents must keep them home for 10 days from the onset of the symptom(s), or until the student has a negative COVID-19 test AND a doctor’s note allowing them to return to school.
On internet connectivity, I appreciate those who have reached out to share their challenges because of poor internet access, despite the best efforts at the hotspots and through the Hudson Valley Wireless project. I also appreciate feedback provided on the fiber optic project along Switzkill Road, and the challenges going along with it. I have reached out to Federal and State representatives to see what can be done to move things along. It is vitally important for our students that the project is completed quickly.
I have received feedback from some parents seeking tech support and communication on integration of Google classroom and instruction. The online effort has been a big lift on many levels to just get school opened. As with any significant organizational change effort, there is always a next level of work to be done.
I appreciate the parent feedback, as it gives insight to needs. In response, I have asked faculty to be mindful of access challenges and aware of communication needs for parents, so that students can stay on top of their classes. I also asked the staff to collect their day to day issues and share them with coordinators, chairs, and/or administrators.
I will be meeting with the re-entry team this week, and we will consider a plan for these parent and faculty needs. I believe that plan should include training and resources for both faculty and parents, as well as clear communication for all parties, including expectations for students. As part of this process, we will seek more feedback from parents to ensure the steps we take are relevant. In the meantime, do not hesitate to connect with administrators with any needs that arise. We will provide support as necessary.
All in all, the first steps have moved us forward. Working together, we will continue to find the right steps for our students, staff, and families. Thank you for your support and insights.
Dr. Timothy Mundell
Superintendent of Schools