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Letter: In-person learning update 04.13.21

April 13, 2021

Dear OCSD families and community,

As a follow-up to my letter from yesterday, I am writing to share that after a thorough review of the recently released NYSDOH Interim Guidance for in-person instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 schools, the district has no choice but to revise its plans for bringing back grades 4-12 students for more in-person learning.

As a result, the district will be pausing its current plans for bringing students back for more “in-person” learning, which was scheduled to begin this upcoming Monday, April 19, 2021.  Accordingly, until further notice, the district’s current programming structure will continue as is until we can work through all of the requirements and put into place the revisions that are now required by the New York State Department of Health. A copy of the new NYSDOH interim guidance can be found at the following URL: www.governor.ny.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/Pre-K_to_Grade_12_Schools_MasterGuidance.pdf.

We expect to have a new drafted plan available to share with the public next week, by no later than April 23, 2021.

Please also be advised, due to these new regulations, it is clear that the district will have to make changes to plans for our secondary students. Specifically, the new regulations require that any school that is located in a CDC-identified red zone (any area with more than 100 cases per 100,000 population over seven days) cohort its students (place them in smaller groupings) due to risks that are involved with COVID-19 transmission. Oswego County is currently a red zone, per the CDC. 

As a result, we will have no choice but to keep our secondary students (grades 7-12), who are at risk of a higher transmission of COVID-19, in the current cohort-smaller groups model that we currently have in place instead of bringing them all back at the same time. This means that the district is unable at this time to return all secondary students for four days or in-person. However, we are investigating and working on alternative plans which involve the possibility of bringing back secondary students for at least one additional day per week on an alternating schedule.

With respect to our elementary students, we do believe that we will be able to bring the rest of our students (grades 4-6) back in the near future. At this time, we are thinking about staggering their return, per the NYSDOH guidance.

Lastly, please know, per the new guidance, a committee of stakeholders (parents, teachers, support staff, students and health officials, etc.) are needed and required to provide input before our revised plan can be put into place. Accordingly, the district is looking for parents and/or guardians who are willing to be a part of these efforts. If any of you are interested in participating, I ask that you reach out directly to my office to let me know. My office phone number is 315-341-2001. We are expecting to assemble a group by no later than this Friday to meet Thursday, April 22, 2021.

While I am aware that having to change our plans at this time is somewhat frustrating, please know that the district is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff while also providing as much “in-person” learning that we possibly can. With that said, thank you for your patience in advance as we work through the changes. I will continue to stay in touch throughout the next couple of weeks with all of you.

Yours in Education,
Mathis Calvin III, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
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