With each passing day, new information is posted online and in the print media about closings taking place across the Hudson Valley as well as the country due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus; from local government offices, schools, sporting events concert venues, restaurants, and the list continues to grow.
Locally, all schools in Ulster County are now closed until March 30. Recently, Highland School Superintendent Thomas Bongiovi spoke of measures his district has taken during this outbreak.
“Since this unprecedented time began, we’ve been doing extra cleaning both during the day and at night in our buildings,” he said. “That entails in the day continuous wiping down of a lot of things you don’t think of normally, like door handles and light switches. In the evening, the same surfaces are wiped down again along with disinfecting all student desks.”
Bongiovi has met with his staff on a daily basis and recently he was on a conference call with Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan to discuss the current situation.
Bongiovi has also sent a letter addressed to faculty, staff and families that has also been posted on the school’s website to keep everyone abreast of what measures are being taken by the district.
Bongiovi said they are arranging for the delivery of school breakfasts and lunches for students in need of these meals.
Spring Break is scheduled from April 6 – 10, “and we will make a decision on that moving forward, but at the moment we’re scheduled to come back here on March 30. This is all ever-changing and all those decisions are beyond my control. Hopefully, when this is all done, slowly but surely, some of those restrictions would be eased but that is going to come from the Department of Health and from the Governor.”
Bongiovi said the Highland community comes together during difficult times.
“This certainly is unprecedented but we will get through this situation as we always do together as a Highland family,” he said.
Marlboro School Superintendent Michael Brooks said the closure of schools, “from a learning perspective it’s not an ideal situation but public health takes precedent over that.” He said there are no cases of Coronavirus in the Marlboro Schools at this time.
Brooks said the district already has a plan in place to get meals to families that rely upon the free and reduced food program.
“We have staff coming in preparing the meals and they [families] can come to the snack shack that is located outside the high school cafeteria and pick up meals,” he said. “We will assess that and see if there is a need to bring meals to families and we’ll work with our bus company to get the meals out around the community,”
The Snack Shack is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon from March 16 to March 27. Fred Callo, Director of Food Services, can be reached at (845) 236-5815 for any additional information.
Brooks said Orange and Ulster County Executives Steven M. Neuhaus and Pat Ryan are working closely together because three school districts straddle the border, Pine Bush, Wallkill and Marlboro.
In two weeks Brooks expects there will be a review of all data in order to determine if there will be an extension of the closure and/or will the school year be ended prematurely.
In a letter on the school’s website, Brooks summed up the present situation: “This is a rapidly evolving situation and we will continue to provide our families with updates as information becomes available. We have daily, sometimes hourly, communications with health officials from both Orange and Ulster Counties and are following their directions carefully. Should they issue further guidance on extending the duration of this closure, families will be notified immediately...I can appreciate the myriad of emotions that surround the current Coronavirus outbreak. I would like to thank our staff and families for their support, patience, and adaptability during this challenging time. Again, please stay tuned for any further updates as they develop.”
Brooks said the progression of the virus in just the last week is what led to the closure of schools in our area.
“I don’t think too many of us were surprised that it went this way because the numbers were just increasing as far as those afflicted. You could see other countries and other states and how they were dealing with the viral spread and what it was doing to our own regular social structure, as far as closing down events and schools.”
Brooks said uppermost in his mind is the welfare of the students in the district.
“I’m worried about our kids, making sure that they understand that things are OK and giving as many families support as possible. We’re going to get back to it at some point [but] we just need to get through this short chapter and figure out what it is,” he said.
Brooks said the custodial staff, at the direction of Larry Cavazza, will be doing a deep clean, “so our buildings that were already clean will be re-cleaned and sanitized multiple times.” He said his administrative team has been meeting regularly to devise a “short term plan and a long term vision of where do we have to go if this continues; a big what if.”
Brooks said the virus has little bearing upon the present planning and logistical phase of the Vision 2020 project and he is hopeful that it will not create an issue when construction begins.
“Right now the timeline would be that work would not get started until the latter part of May anyway,” he said. “Once the bids are awarded work can commence.
As far as graduation in June, Brooks said at this point the Governor has banned large gatherings in the state.
“That’s why we’re taking it day by day,” he said.
Marlborough Town Hall
As a response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Town of Marlborough Town Hall will be closed, starting Monday, March 16, until further notice.
Supervisor Al Lanzetta made the announcement Sunday morning, adding that the town staff will continue to assist the Community via the internet and messages left on the Town phone department lines: Town Hall can be reached at 795-5100. The supervisor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will try to serve the Community in a way that is safe for all concerned. We appreciate your patience during this difficult time,” Lanzetta said. “We will all get through this by doing what Marlborough always does – watching out for our neighbors. Please be especially considerate of the needs of the elderly. “