This Memorial Day, I want to share a message of gratitude. This is a day in which we honor those who lost their lives protecting our country. In addition to those who served in our military forces, this year I would also like to acknowledge the health care workers and emergency responders lost on the front line of the pandemic. As a former U.S. Marine, I would like to thank them for their service to our country.
The warm weather has finally arrived! And with it, the knowledge that we are entering the final stretch of our academic year. I know the sunny days are calling and I encourage everyone to enjoy the spring weather while still keeping up with your school work the best you can and finishing the year strong.
This week marks another stage of our truly unusual year. Teachers and staff will be in the buildings packing up our students’ personal possessions. On Thursday the 14th, families can pick up these items in the school bus loops. UPK through grade 5 will be at the Elementary School. Grades 6 through 12 will be at the High School. Please stay in your car. A staff member will bring the bagged items out to you.
As we come to the start of May, I wanted to share with you the accountability procedures that will be in place for students in grades 7-12 for the rest of the 2019-20 school year. This will determine how course credit is awarded.
These accountability procedures were developed with the well-being of our students in mind. They reflect the unprecedented situation the COVID-19 crisis has created but are also designed to preserve the integrity of an academic program our staff and students have invested so much in.
As I’m sure you are all now aware, Governor Cuomo announced on Friday that New York State schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. Even if this news was not entirely unexpected, I know many of you, myself included, are feeling a sense of loss. Although we will not all be together on the Byron-Bergen campus again this year, schools are not closed. Our buildings are closed, but our school community is up and running and we are committed to getting every student through to June.
Our schools remain closed through May 15th. There is no blueprint for our current situation except to do the best we can and support one another. As I think about this, I am compelled to start with our team’s core belief of building and maintaining supportive relationships for all within our learning community. I recognize that not only did our educational world get flipped upside down, but your family’s world as well. I empathize that for many of you, you are not only a parent/guardian, but also an employee/employer, spouse/partner, a daughter/son, etc. Given this, our instructional plan is evolving to support our students with an important focus on getting used to a “new normal” for this period of time.
Just a couple months ago, it would have been inconceivable to me that we would be spending this much time apart. Now, we all know that it is imperative to do so. The safety of our students and community is the number one priority. That said, I’m looking forward to a time when the hallways will be bustling with students and laughter again.
It is a strange time as I look out over the Byron-Bergen campuses and see no kids playing, no sports teams practicing, and no staff out walking on the track. As much as I look forward to a time when the fields will bustle with activity again, for everyone’s safety, the playgrounds, sports fields, and school buildings remain closed.
The good news is that the curve is flattening. I would like to thank everyone for practicing social distancing and staying home. The safest thing we can do now, for ourselves and each other, is keep up the good work and stay home.
As our time apart continues, I know it has been hard on many of you. I, too, am feeling the separation from family and friends. But, I can’t help but be a little excited by the innovation and creativity this separation has brought to our educational community.
It has been two weeks since we closed our doors to students. It has been hard, but I’m happy to say that a lot of positive has happened in that time. Our meal distribution plan is up and running. I am proud to be part of the team handing out food on distribution days. We are running a skeleton crew at the schools, so everyone is doing their part.
Our teachers have been hard at work providing learning materials and resources to our families as well as reaching out to see how their students are handling this upheaval. Mrs. Voos, the Elementary School Counselor, has created a newsletter called The Calming Corner to help our younger students with the social emotional side of social distancing. Our High School Counseling team is very active on social media, encouraging our older students to reach out of they are having a difficult time or just need someone to talk to.
I would like to take a moment to share how proud I am to be Superintendent at this exceptional District. Although our schools are closed, our faculty and staff are eager to support our students and the community in any way we can.
I especially would like to mention our School Cafeteria Lunch Manager, Mary Dellapenna and the cafeteria staff who, beginning today, are distributing two daily meals for pickup in the High School bus loop. I thank them for providing this vital service to our community. More information on meal distribution is available on the website.
Over the past few days our teachers and staff have been working diligently to develop Instructional packets for our students in order to provide a continuity of instruction. The goal of these packets is to provide materials in which students can review previous instruction.
I am happy to say they are complete and ready for pick up and/or delivery.
Byron-Bergen Central School District has applied to the New York State Child Nutrition Office and received approval to provide meals to all Byron-Bergen School children ages 3 through 18 at no cost. We are very pleased to be able to offer these meals to our students. The District will begin distributing two (2) non-perishable daily meals beginning on Monday, March 23, 2020.
Many of you may have concerns about the ongoing spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on our schools. Please be assured that we are closely monitoring the situation with the Genesee County Department of Health. There are currently no diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Genesee County.
Please know that if any employee or student receives a diagnosis, the District is prepared to follow guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the Genesee County Department of Health and the New York State Education Department. Local health departments will contact schools if suspected or known cases emerge, and the District is prepared to work with any affected families.