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Update from the Superintendent - May 15, 2020

Dear Clarkstown School Community Members:

I hope this communication finds you and your family members healthy and in good spirits.

I am writing to provide you with updates, some of the topics based on the latest communication from the State Education Department:

  • Valedictorians and Salutatorians - I am proud to announce our Class of 2020 Valedictorians and Salutatorians. Sydney Rauch is the Valedictorian at North High School and the Salutatorian is Alexandra Wang. At South High School, the Valedictorian is Victoria Reiter and the Salutatorian is Elizabeth Dwyer.  Congratulations to these four students for these outstanding achievements and recognition!  We look forward to hearing your inspiring speeches during Graduation.

  • Friday, May 22 - This date is listed on the District calendar as a School Closed Day. It has been my desire to keep this day on the calendar to ensure a well-needed four-day Memorial Day weekend for everyone.  However, in accordance with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order, districts in the NYS must use Vacation Days and Snow Days to reach the 180-day total in order to receive State Aid.  Therefore, school will be in session on Friday, May 22. However, Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, remains a school holiday.  
  • Last Day of School - The Governor’s Office and the State Education Department are well aware that with school being in session during the Spring Break, there is an impact on determining the last day of school. Exceeding 180 days will cause a conflict with our current staff labor contracts.  On that note, the District is prepared to calculate and share our understanding of the Last Day of School, but we are waiting for confirmation from SED and the Governor’s Office, information I hope will be available next week.
  • Graduation - Principals at Birchwood School, North High School and South High School have been conversing with each other, students and parents about planning high school graduations during this health pandemic.  I want to express my appreciation for the creative ideas that have been shared that focus on our seniors and our wish to seek and find ways to respect, celebrate and applaud their tremendous accomplishments.  Presently, Birchwood, North High School and South High School are making plans for a Virtual Graduation.  Potential plans for a live graduation in July and/or August are still  being considered. We will continue these discussions and the decision-making process will be based on our need to adhere to updated Executive Orders from the Governor, while protecting the health and safety of everyone.
  • Moving Up Ceremonies - Plans for  Moving Up Ceremonies at our elementary schools and Felix Festa Middle School are being finalized.  You will hear more specific information soon.
  • Retrieval of Students’ Belongings - Parents and students have been inquiring about a process for the retrieval of personal belongings in our schools.  We have held off on determining a specific process for the purpose of maintaining the health and safety for everyone involved.  Within the past week, we successfully implemented a safe process for faculty and staff to retrieve belongings.  This afternoon, a committee met to discuss a process for students to retrieve their belongings.  We will provide more specific information as plans are finalized. 

In closing, I want to express my thanks to all employees in our District, our students, and parents as we continue to persevere together while navigating all aspects of this challenging health crisis.

Stay Strong!  Stay Healthy!

Sincerely,

Signature

Martin D. Cox, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools