September 4, 2020
Dear School Community:
I hope this correspondence finds everyone enjoying the end of a summer filled with families and friends. This is an update on our 2020-2021 reopening of the Beekmantown Central School District.
First and foremost, we are excited to see teachers and students together again. This is true whether we are learning in person or virtually. This year we will have many challenges. One thing I am certain of is this year will be memorable. We ask you to give each learning opportunity a chance. Please resist labeling or judging a chance to learn in negative terms. We are all unsure of what the future will bring. Instead of focusing on the unknown, let's take a look at what we know. Over the past six months, we have collectively pushed public education further down the evolutionary path than others thought possible. Moreover, we have given our best efforts to enhance the future of our students and we did so in short order. BCSD is ready to continue our evolution to instruct and educate every student, regardless of their setting. In the words of Charles Darwin, "In the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Our students are listening and watching. Showcasing how we make the best of difficult or challenging situations sends lifelong lessons to all. I am certain that this year stands a great chance to surprise us and could be awesome if we give every situation a chance for real success.
On July 31, 2020, we shared with you and governmental agencies our reopening plan available here: www.bcsdk12.org/reopening/ We made these collaborative decisions after listening to feedback during multiple meetings and reading feedback and data on surveys from many different groups. We researched options and tracked the scientific local, state, national and world data points related to Covid-19 and reopening of schools. Obviously, everyone's opinion was not adopted, but it was listened to and respected. In the final analysis, the vast majority agreed that having educational and instructional options for families would be best. We thank everyone for their willingness to share and serve on our committees.
Currently, our local Covid-19 infections are at three (3). This is promising, but it is still evident that the virus is in our community and we will need to be stringent on following public health rules. However, the Beekmantown Central School District is in a fragile state. So everyone is aware, BCSD lost almost three million dollars ($3,000,000.00) in state aid funding for 2020-2021. We recently lost more than three million dollars ($3,000,000.00) more in our yearly Extended Learning Time monies and were told we are losing another almost four million dollars ($3,800,000.00) in NYS education aid promised in April. Losing this massive amount of NYS money is alarming to me and an injustice to our community. I will continue to fight for fair funding and I ask you to join me in the pursuit for equity for our students and staff. Please know that many districts in NYS have already moved to virtual learning due to these drastic financial cuts.
As we reopen families need to ensure their emergency contact information is up to date. While we have been working endless hours to ensure a safe and happy return to school, we must realize that each school may close in a moment's notice. Below are only some examples which could cause immediate school closure:
1. There is a Covid-19 outbreak
2. Many staff members are quarantined
3. Students or staff do not follow our public health rules
4. Transportation complexities
5. Staff stays home to care for children allowable under expanded new laws
6. Inadequate local testing or timely results
7. Cleaning staff is absent
8. Teaching staff is absent
9. Bus drivers are out sick
10. More students enroll at BCSD eroding our ability to socially distance
11. Governor Cuomo mandates our closure
So, I ask everyone to be prepared for situations where it becomes less safe to educate students in person within our school buildings. Again, make sure your contact information is up to date by emailing or calling the main office of your school.
Currently we are finalizing the remaining details for our first day with staff (September 8, 2020) and our first day with students (September 14, 2020). We are excited to bring forward great educational opportunities for our students delivered by our amazingly caring staff. We will continue to monitor all situations, be creative, and adjust anything and everything as needed.
Our health and safety measures for a successful return to school meet or exceed standards set forth by the health and political officials who are in charge. Now is the time to once again remind your students, regardless of age, how to become an expert at handwashing, social distancing and wearing a mask for extended periods of time. These necessary skills are the gold standards for a safe return to school and will need to be practiced by all.
I continue to be amazed by the spirit and "can do" attitude of our staff and community. Together, if we take the reopening process seriously and move through it slowly and carefully while focusing on safety and growth we will succeed this year. We look forward to helping everyone learn and grow through this experience.
Daniel W. Mannix
Superintendent of Schools
* This post was shared on ParentSquare (text, email and push notifications), Twitter and the district website, but if you know anyone in the school community that somehow was not reached, please feel free to share this with them. Thank you.