On Monday, March 16, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order directing all schools in New York State to close by Wednesday, March 18 for two weeks ending April 1. This has provided school districts with the challenge of keeping their students engaged as well as feeding those in need.
Last week, the Pine Bush Central School District asked students if they needed to borrow chromebooks to complete online academic enrichment activities. This week, Superintendent of Schools Tim Mains, encouraged students to tell the District if they lack access to the Internet either via broadband Wi-Fi or directly wired through a modem. Students can use the email email@example.com or they can call the district switchboard to let them know.
“We are exploring ways to overcome that barrier,” Mains said. “Our desire is to maximize students with direct online access as an ideal arrangement.”
The distribution of meals for children under 19 had a schedule change this week from every day to just Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Next week the district might be shifting to two days a week in an effort to stretch their volunteers over a potentially longer period of time. Meals will continue to be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Circleville Middle School, Pine Bush High School and at Family Church in Middletown. Mains remained optimistic that the District would get through this difficult time together.
“Despite the challenges we face, this situation also presents an opportunity – an opportunity to more rapidly maximize our digital capabilities and to build some momentum towards technology-enabled classrooms operating more widely,” he said. “As we make this journey, we ask you to remember that we will be building this bus while we are driving it.”
The Valley Central School District has also provided learning activities for students during the COVID-19 crisis.
All Kindergarten-fifth grade teachers have sent home two to five books (depending on grade, reading level, interest, length of the book) for each student. Students have also been sent home with reader’s notebooks. They will complete one writing about reading assignments per day. Writing notebooks have also been sent home along with a list of writing topics. Elementary students have been provided with math practice packets. This material has been previously learned. Third grade students are using cursive practice packets while Kindergarten and First Grade students have used a printing practice packet.
Middle School teachers are preparing lesson plans, using either an online platform such as Google Classroom or a paper packet. All seventh and eighth grade students are provided with a Valley Central Chromebook that they have taken home with them. Sixth grade students who did not have access to a computer were sent home with a Chromebook.
Like the middle school teachers, the high school teachers are preparing lesson plans using either an online platform such as Google Classroom or a paper packet. All ninth and tenth grade students have been provided with a Valley Central Chromebook. Eleventh and twelfth grade students without computers were also sent home with Chromebooks.
The Alternative Learning Center (ALC) at Maybrook has put together paper packets for their students to strengthen and review their academic skills. ALC students can access elementary, middle and high school resources on the District website as appropriate. Additional online resources have been posted to the District website for all grade levels.
Marianne Serratorre, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, noted that the District would get through these trying times.
“The uncertainty of this situation can be stressful for us all,” she said. “By supporting one another, our school community will successfully navigate whatever lies ahead.
The District has added a fifth site to their Grab and Go Food Service, which provides breakfast or lunch to those in need Monday through Friday until further notice. Their sites are 9:45 a.m. through 10:15 a.m. at Sleepy Hollow Trailer Park, Route 17K, Coldenham: 10:30 a.m. through 12 noon at the side parking lot at Valley Central Middle School, in back of Walden Elementary School, East Coldenham Elementary School and the second entrance in front of the ALC at Maybrook.
The Wallkill Central School District will make online learning activities available to students beginning on or about March 30. The District has created an alternate day block schedule that divides their teaching staff into an X team and a Y team and a calendar that designates X days and Y days. On the teacher’s designated day, they will provide two days of learning activities for their students that will incorporate skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, analyzing and reflection. Every day, teachers will be available through telephone, e-mail, video conferencing or some other means determined by the teacher. These lessons are meant to refresh students about content that was already taught.
“At the present time, the District will not be providing new instruction during the period of school closure; instead, it will be providing learning materials addressing skills previously taught,” said Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle. “Special education students will be provided the same access as regular education students to these materials and reasonable accommodations may be considered on an individual basis, as may be necessary to enable a particular student to access these materials.”
The District will also be posting numerous learning materials by grade level/content area for students and families. They anticipate this site being fully functional no later than March 27. These materials will be accessible through the District’s website.
Wallkill will be providing free meals beginning on March 30 for all children 18 years and under whose families choose to receive them. Both breakfast and lunch will be offered daily, Monday through Friday.
Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Brian Devincenzi asks that people complete the Food Order Form available on the District website or call (845) 895-7192 the day prior to service beginning. Calls received between 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be processed for next day meal service. Any calls received after 1 p.m. may not receive a meal service the following day but will be contacted with a start date for receiving meal service.
Families can choose to pick up the bundled breakfast and lunch meals at the high school cafeteria or at Plattekill Elementary School. There will be a designated location at each building, clearly marked and visible for meal pick ups. Meal pickup times will be Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Meals will also be delivered Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. A member of each household will need to be available to pick up the meal from the bus at the end of the driveway if they choose the delivery method.
Superintendent Kevin Castle thanked the District for their understanding during this time of constant change.
“Thank you again for your patience and cooperation,” he said. “Stay Panther Strong!”