Important Updates - May 1, 2020
Dear Clarkstown School Community Members:
I hope this communication finds you and your family members in good health and spirits.
I am writing to inform you that Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared that schools in New York State will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the health and safety risks involved with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
I express to all of you my condolences for the illnesses and loss of lives in our school community. While safety is, and always will be a top priority, I still need to express my sadness that this horrific pandemic has prevented us from being together in the physical setting of our 13 schools.
Moving forward, we now need to address the following priorities:
Home Learning - I am appreciative of the diligent efforts made by teachers to instruct our students during the School Closing under challenging circumstances. Based on anecdotal feedback I have received from parents as well as input from recent surveys, the District is working with various groups on making revisions to our Home Learning Plan. Those revisions may include changes to the Structure of the Day, Delivery of Instruction (Live and/or Recorded Instruction), and Office Hours. A presentation will be made at the May 7 Board of Education meeting to inform the community of the revised Home Learning Plan.
Emotional Supports - Please remember that our District has many resources available to families needing emotional and social support. Our school psychologists, clinicians and student assistant counselors will continue to be available to speak personally with students, parents and guardians by phone, email and video chat. In addition to school mental health personnel, community resources will continue to help our families through this period of uncertainty. Please contact your child’s teacher if you need assistance accessing these supports.
Meals - Our District will continue to provide breakfast and lunch for those on the free and reduced program and for any student who may need this service at this time. Pick up for multi-day meals is on Mondays and Thursdays, from 10am to noon at Felix Festa Middle School, A-Wing entrance. My thanks to our Food Service and Transportation staff for their continued work to support our families.
Child Care Services - We continue to work in partnership with Rockland BOCES, our neighboring school districts and Child Care Resources of Rockland to provide daycare for students of essential workers. For more information, please go to childcarerockland.org.
Campuses Remain Closed- Please be reminded that all of our 13 schools and campuses are closed to the public. We understand the need for parents and students to want to retrieve personal items from the schools, and we will update you on this topic in the coming weeks.
Felix Festa Moving Up Ceremony - Recognizing our 8th graders at Moving Up ceremonies is an important part of our Festa tradition. During the next few weeks, Felix Festa administrators will be working to develop a plan to conduct the Moving Up ceremonies virtually, to appropriately celebrate the achievements of our 8th grade Class of 2020.
High School Graduation - When I spoke to the South High School seniors in the auditorium during the first day of school in September, I informed them that they will come together again in June, down the hallway in the gymnasium, a staging area before walking to their Graduation on the school’s athletic field. My vision for that day may no longer become a reality, but our high school principals, Dr. Harry Leonardatos (CHSN) and Ms. Deb Tarantino (CHSS), have remained optimistic with plans for celebrating our graduates. Though the traditional ceremony will not be able to take place, the principals are working with senior class leaders and their advisors to commemorate milestones for Clarkstown’s seniors. Both high schools have initiated plans for a virtual graduation as well as other opportunities for students to receive their diplomas while observing the governor's social distancing guidelines.
I have been inspired by the level of creativity, optimism, kindness and perseverance among our school community members throughout the health crisis. As we go forward, I will continue to work with administration, teachers, staff, parents, students, and the Board of Education while relying on a “First Things First” decision-making model as we plan and prepare our next steps for all school-related matters. I appreciate your partnership in education during this challenging time and believe that we will grow stronger with every step we take together during this journey on behalf of the students we serve.
Martin D. Cox, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools