Message from the Superintendent

January 20, 2021

Dear SGI Families.

After a couple of months of brainstorming and planning, at last night’s BOE meeting we finalized our plans for the remainder of this 20-21 school year. Thank you to everyone who contributed your time and ideas to this process. We set forth to answer the question, “how do we increase quality instructional time for every SGI student?”

I never thought this pandemic would continue throughout this school year. Even though we have some hope with the

vaccine, whether or not we’ll be able to return safely to full in-person learning before the end of the year remains uncertain. Without a change to the guidance given to us by the governor and NYSED, we must continue to adhere to the safety measures in place including 6 feet of distance, mask wearing and cleaning protocols. We have seen some change in guidance as scientists have learned more about this virus, including the original thinking that it could live on hard surfaces for days. We continue to clean thoroughly with excellent products, but don’t need a full day between cohorts. We also know that 6 feet of distance between people while wearing masks is the most important thing we can do to avoid the spread of the virus and the quarantining of our students and employees.

Based on the premise that we’re going to do whatever we can, wherever we can,we will be making the following changes to our schedules. More details will be forthcoming from each principal in the coming days.

  1. Beginning on February 22, 2021, SES students will shift to in-person half days Monday-Friday, with the purple cohort attending AM classes and the gold cohort attending PM classes. Breakfast and lunch will be served to every SES student in a grab and go manner. Bottom line-it is good for kids to see their teachers every day. This will provide us with continuity and daily contact. Asynchronous work will be reinforcement of the daily learning activities, much more like homework has always been for students, an extra practice of lessons learned in- person in school.
  2. On February 1, 2021, CES students will return to full days, Monday-Friday. If you think it’s unfair that CES students are returning to full days when we cannot do so elsewhere, I say that it is equally unfair to keep 140 CES students out when we can maintain social distancing requirements for this smaller number of students safely. For the first time in 5 years, I wish that all of our students were in smaller schools like CES so that we could bring them all back now. We’re going to do whatever we can, wherever we can, given our current configuration. Fair doesn’t always mean equal.
  3. On February 22, 2021, SMS and SHS students will move to an every-other-day model with scheduled remote Wednesdays, to increase contact with teachers and to eliminate the five days between every in-person group. The purple cohort will attend in-person on Mondays, the gold cohort in-person on Tuesdays. All SMS and SHS students will follow a reduced schedule remotely on Wednesdays with 25-minute classes. Purple cohort will then attend in-person on Thursdays, with the gold cohort in-person on Fridays.

While I recognize the inconvenience to our families that changes may bring and that teenagers may well enjoy the days off every week, our job is to educate our students to the best of our ability. To improve learning opportunities for every child, to the extent possible under the pandemic guidelines, is the right thing to do. I wish this message was about returning to school five days in-person. We are giving several weeks’ notice to our families so that you can make appropriate arrangements for childcare and to our employees so that they have plenty of time to plan for these changes. Salem Lutheran, Early Bird and the Club all stand ready to accommodate their current students and more who need half day childcare.

I appreciate your patience. The end is in sight. I hope for a normal return before the end of this year and more than that, I look forward to a September 2021 return to school as we knew it. I remain grateful that all are healthy and that we’re headed toward an end to the challenges we’ve had from this global pandemic.

Kimberly Moritz, Superintendent of Schools