March 27, 2020
Dear ESM Families,
My hope is that everyone has remained healthy and safe during this challenging time. As of today, we have an additional Executive Order from Governor Cuomo with regard to school closings across N.Y. State. The order reads, "The directive contained in Executive Order 202.4 related to the closure of schools statewide shall hereafter be modified to provide that all schools shall remain closed until April 15, 2020, at which time the continued closure shall be re-evaluated…”. Akin to the previous such order, this is being interpreted as ten (10) additional “working days” beyond the original April 1st return date. With this in mind, the current timeline for our schools to be closed is from Monday, March 30, 2020 through Tuesday, April 14, 2020. This now means that the schools will be reopen to our students on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
As you know, our school calendar has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Spring Recess was moved to this week. As previously notified, our Continuous Learning Experience for students will “kick-off” this Monday, March 30, 2020. To maintain safety, with students now required to remain at home, you will see that this experience will slowly evolve to be more “on-line” as we move through this closure time period together. Please be sure to check your emails and our website for additional details from our building Principals.
This new learning will never replace the learning experiences that children have in our schools. I know that all of us here in the District cannot wait for our students to return. Yet, I am truly optimistic about the beginning of electronic style learning in our school district. The work that our educators have undertaken to prepare and will continue to undertake as we move forward, has been very inspiring. Our instructional team of teachers and administrators have been busy reimagining teaching and learning to make on-line learning effective and engaging for our students. All of us continue to learn new technology skills in order to prepare. Faculty meetings are being held using teleconferencing and Google “chat rooms” for the first time. This past Wednesday we held our first BOE meeting via Zoom video conferencing, which was also broadcast over the internet!
As we move forward, you will see that Google Classroom will slowly evolve to become a key component of our learning plan at all levels. Google Classroom (along with the Schoology platform) are already being used at the Jr-Sr. HS. It will be a central place for instructional materials, assignments and communication for classrooms and individual courses. Please do not be nervous about this news if you are unfamiliar, as more information will be coming over the next two weeks. I am sure that many of you will have questions or need support as we begin our new learning experience together. I ask for your patience as we initiate this digital learning journey and encourage you to reach out right away to your classroom teachers or building principals for support when you need it. Please tell your children not to worry if they have difficulties in the beginning, as they will eventually learn to navigate this new learning format. We know that along with us, they will all need some time to adjust.
Our school closure food service program will continue at Dayton Avenue School, with a second site being added at Tuttle Avenue School beginning this Monday. This is a bagged breakfast and lunch program for children (18 years old or under) who are from families with students in the District that qualify for the Free and Reduced Meal Program. Please reach out to Mr. Tim Laube at email@example.com if you have any questions.
I am also glad to share that our district has contracted with SCOPE for the school closure childcare program, to assist our First Responders and Health Care Professionals parents with school age children. For additional information please look here: https://www.scopeonline.us/. As required by New York State, the District is also participating in the Suffolk County plan to assist our essential worker parents with younger children, ages Birth-4. Should you have this need, Child Care Council of Suffolk (CCCS) is the resource. The CCCS is fully capable of assisting families find appropriate child care and are happy to do so. Any essential worker needing child care will be referred to the CCCS hotline at 646-926-3784 to be connected with a referral specialist who will identify available programs that meet each parent's needs.
I know as a school community that we are very supportive and proud of our first responders and health care workers. During this time, we salute you! I know we are all incredibly thankful for their bravery and service to our communities.
I would like to personally thank those of you that have reached out and expressed words of support during this unprecedented time period.
You have a great team of Board Members, Administrators, Teachers and Staff Members that will continue to do their best, supporting and educating the children of this community.
One day, in the near future, all of this will be in our rearview mirror.
We will get through this together!
Stay Positive! Stay Healthy!
Joseph A. Steimel
Superintendent of Schools