Dear Pelham Families,
I want you to know that we all share the frustration of not being able to open under the hybrid plan as previously announced and recognize the difficulties the abrupt change of plans caused the community. We all knew this year would be one requiring patience and flexibility, though we hoped not to test either before the school year even began. I am humbled by the ability of our families and staff to adjust so quickly. We remain thoroughly committed to making a return to in person instruction a reality for all of our students, yet we must do so in a way that minimizes risk for the entire school community.
This week’s shift to full remote instruction allowed us time to assess the degree and scale of the potential risk to students and staff. Over the past two days we have worked to determine the scope of social gatherings this past week, to assess the level of risk to siblings, and to work with the Department of Health to develop appropriate next steps. With that in mind, the following plans for classes will be in effect next week:
Elementary Schools & Pelham Middle School
In reviewing the information obtained by the District, we have determined that these gatherings were only attended by high school students. Additionally, the Department of Health has indicated that the risk to siblings in this situation is low. With that in mind all four elementary schools and Pelham Middle School will return for in-person learning under the Hybrid Plan on Monday, September 14.
As per the calendar, Cohort A will report for in-person instruction on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and Cohort B will report for in-person instruction on Thursday and Friday this week. Cohorts that are not scheduled to report in person will attend classes remotely per the Hybrid Plan. As a reminder, Wednesday will be a noon dismissal for both Hybrid and Remote students.
Pelham Memorial High School
While we recognize that not all high school students were in attendance, our investigation indicated that the scope of the situation warranted a comprehensive approach.
All PMHS students will continue to learn remotely through at least Wednesday, September 16. During this time, students should follow the Hybrid Bell schedule, which is available on the PMHS website. Consistent with the hybrid schedule, school will end at noon on Wednesday.
PMHS will open for in-person instruction under the Hybrid Plan on Thursday, September 17 for those students who can present a negative COVID-19 test that was administered on or after September 14.
To facilitate this testing, the District is making arrangements for easily accessible COVID-19 testing on Monday, September 14 and Tuesday, September 15. Additional information about the COVID-19 testing is available below.
For those who cannot be tested at PMHS during the dates/times provided, additional testing locations are available on the Westchester County Department of Health website under the testing, results and treatment tab. Students, parents and staff can also call the NYS COVID-19 hotline at 1-888-364-3065 for assistance locating a testing site.
Students who choose not to participate/provide test results to the District will be required to complete the 14 day quarantine. These students should access remote instruction during the quarantine period. They may return for in-person instruction on Thursday, September 24.
PMHS COVID-19 Testing Information
Cohort B students will be scheduled for testing on Monday, September 14. Cohort A students will be scheduled for testing on Tuesday, September 15.
Specific testing times, the location, and additional details will be forthcoming from Principal Berkowitz. Students will be excused from their remote classes for the purposes of testing.
Only PMHS students may be tested at this facility.
Testing will be free for students, however, those who have health insurance should be prepared to present an insurance card.
While waiting to be tested, students are required to wear a face covering/mask and must maintain at least six foot distancing from others.
Test results are expected to be available within 24-36 hours.
In the event that one or more students test positive, contact tracing will begin and the District will determine next steps in consultation with the Department of Health.
This situation has shown us that although we have made tremendous strides to keep the virus at bay, the actions and choices of one of us impact all of us. While we will never eliminate all risks related to this virus we must remain vigilant as a school community and make choices that do not unnecessarily increase the risk to our students and staff. As a reminder of the commitment we must make to one another and to assist in avoiding future shutdowns, All students and families will be asked to sign a school community commitment outlining the behavioral expectations we all must make to in order to maintain a healthy environment and acknowledging that those who do not uphold that commitment will be required to attend classes remotely so as to not jeopardize the health of others. Additional information will be forthcoming next week.
During the week ahead, and throughout the school year, it remains important for parents, guardians and caregivers to monitor their children’s health. If your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19, they must not attend school and should seek testing for the virus.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
Fever greater than 100.0 degrees F
Congestion or runny nose
Muscle or body aches
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Loss of taste or smell
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
As a reminder, a negative test for COVID-19 does not mean that you are immune indefinitely. For us to reopen the high school and keep all of our schools open, it is incumbent upon all of us to avoid risky behavior, including large social gatherings. If we all do our part, I am confident that we will open schools and be able to provide the education we all want for this school year.
Cheryl H. Champ
Superintendent of Schools