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A Message from the Superintendent

Dear Parents and Community Members: 

I must admit that I am currently at a loss for words to describe the many, many changes that the spread of the COVID-19 virus is bringing forth on a daily basis; and as such, the number of changes that this has brought for all of us involved in management plans. To say the changes are substantial is a grand understatement. However, one of the most substantial changes – one that is not lost at all on us – is that some of you have suddenly and unexpectedly had your work situations change up to and including the loss of jobs. In these situations we know that our communications and the work that we are sending home for your children may not be the highest priority for you and your families, and we appreciate any attention that you can give to them.

With this in mind, here are a few updates for you as we continue to work to provide balance across a fairly large and economically diverse district, as well as ensure the health and safety of our staff: 

  1. Projected Return to School Date – On March 14, 2020 we determined as WSWHE BOCES component school districts that we would close through the spring break (April 19th) and return to school on April 20th depending on the status of the COVID-19 virus at that time. On March 16th, the Governor ordered all schools to close for a period of two weeks (until March 30th) and to return to school thereafter or risk losing state aid. Given the current trajectory of the virus and associated actions that are being taken/directed at the state level, we will continue with our plans until such time as the Governor orders a return to school. For this and other such questions including those related to food service availability, please refer to our website in general and to our FAQ list in particular. 
  1. State and AP Testing
    1. Grades 3-8 testing: For students in grades 3-8, all state required testing has been cancelled for this year.
    2. Regents Exams: No decision has been made on Regents exams for this year. We will notify families of any changes once we receive guidance from the NY State Education Department.
    3. AP Exams: These exams are now being offered in revised format for at home testing. The High School Counseling Office will notify students with additional information. 
  1. Learning Materials – Our Phase 3 (March 30 – April 11) plans for instructional materials is being refined at this point and you will receive additional information on this in the coming days. As noted before, this will continue to be review and supplemental instruction largely using those modes that students used when school was in session with supports from district-approved technologies. If you are using different technologies at home, we strongly encourage you to read the privacy policies to ensure that your child’s information is protected and not being sold or otherwise shared to other third parties. This is but one of the troubling components of many non-district approved technologies that are available including those being offered for free during school closures. In addition, please be sure to check the various privacy settings on the apps your child is using to ensure that they are safe while in chat rooms, video conversations, etc. 
  1. School Building Access – In order to keep essential services going and to work to protect the health and safety of our staff, access to buildings beyond our school lunch service (see below) is very limited at this time and we ask that you visit the schools only after an arrangement has been made with the building principal. 
  1. Child Care Services Survey for Essential Workers – After our community survey on this was released last Thursday, the State Education Department issued a revised guidance document which included a significantly larger list of those deemed to be essential workers. As a result, a second survey (click HERE) is now required for us to determine the full extent of the need so that we can determine staffing, location plans and a timeline for implementation. If you are in need of child care and you are included in those positions listed in the survey, please complete it no later than 5:00 pm on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. If you have already completed the survey, the only thing we ask is that you notify the District (schoolclosure@bscsd.org) to let us know if you no longer need this service based on changing circumstances including the Governor’s Stay at Home directive. 
  1. Impact on Student Health Despite some public behaviors and social media commentary to the contrary, our students and young people in general are at risk for carrying and contracting the COVID-19 Virus and need to modify their social behaviors accordingly. Please help us in sharing this message loudly and widely! 
  1. Food Service
    1. Free and Reduced Meal Program: Parents or other family members continue to pick up those meals at either of the following locations between 10:30 am and 1:00 pm:
      1. High School/Middle School location - Use HS main entrance
      2. Malta location - Use main entrance (this site will be discontinued beginning Wednesday, March 25 -further communication will be coming to those Malta Ave families).
      3. MT/WR location- Use WR/MT Kitchen Entrance by bus loop.

        NOTE: The district's BackPack Program is continuing as it did when school was in session. 
  1. Board of Education Meeting AccessWe will continue to limit in-person access to upcoming Board of Education meetings, but will be providing opportunities to attend via webcast/Twitter feed. Please check the website this week and next for any changes to these procedures. 
  1. Updated Information – We will continue to update related information including our Q&A on our website and will be answering questions submitted to our dedicated schoolclosure@bscsd.org email box as timely as possible.

 I anticipate that my next communication with you will be later this week once we are advised on the Governor’s order regarding the possible continuation of school closure.

 Please take good care of yourselves, your elders, your children, and one another as we continue to move forward. 

On behalf of the entire BSCSD team, 

Ken Slentz
Superintendent of Schools

Ballston Spa CSD