UPDATE: Goshen’s plan for 4-day in-person instruction

Dear Goshen family,

Last evening, members of the district’s Reopening Committee met with Dr. Nicholas Belasco, the official school physician for the Goshen Central School District. The discussion included the recently updated social distancing guidelines that were released by the New York State Department of Health on April 9 as well as our plans to implement 4-day in-person instruction. View the updated NYSDOH guidelines.

As mentioned in a previous letter to our families and employees, the updated guidelines have impacted our original plans to implement 4-day in-person instruction for our K-12 students beginning April 19. We are working around the clock to remediate any planning that does not align with this new guidance, specifically:

  • Although our elementary-age students are permitted under the guidelines to be spaced three feet apart in the classroom, older students at the middle and high school must remain six feet apart since they are unable to maintain cohorting. This is because Orange County is considered a high risk transmission area based on metrics from the CDC and Department of Health. 
  • The guidance also states that although elementary-age students may sit three feet apart in the classroom, they must eat their school meals six feet apart, even with a partition. This affects how meals will be served since they had previously been provided in the classroom at their desks. We are working to finalize these details.
  • In addition, the new guidance states that school districts must hold a public hearing to present their instructional plan before they are permitted to reopen schools. Please note that this public meeting will be held prior to the regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting on Monday, April 19, at 6:15 p.m. A Google form was created to submit comments pertaining to the upcoming Board meeting agenda and the public hearing. Please also note that because of this new meeting requirement, the 4-day in-person instruction plan will now begin on Tuesday, April 20.

So what do the new requirements mean for our schools?

According to Dr. Belasco, it is necessary to follow the NYSDOH guidelines since that is the directive of our local county health department. The guidelines are a state-issued document and non-compliance may result in consequences for our district. Dr. Belasco also informed us that contact tracing methods will remain the same, unless directed by the Orange County Department of Health.

At this time, students at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School, Goshen Intermediate School and Goshen High School will be able to begin 4-day in-person instruction on April 20. Because the C. J. Hooker Middle School has a large number of students who planned to return — approximately 83% — the building is unable to adequately accommodate students and provide them with an adequate learning environment while adhering to the NYSDOH.

Please note we are still investigating ways to accommodate our middle school students. It is our utmost desire that ALL students will be able to attend 4-days in-person if they so choose; however, these new guidelines have simply thrown a metaphorical wrench into our plans. I ask for your patience as we attempt to resolve this issue. 

It is also important to know that this situation may change at any time. Currently, Orange County is considered a high risk transmission area, and with that comes tighter restrictions on our schools. If the transmission rate goes down based on the metrics from the CDC and Department of Health, only three feet of social distancing will be required, and we will then have adequate space for our middle school students. You can view the details on pages 7-8 of the NYSDOH guidance.

In summary:

  • Four-day in-person instruction will begin on Tuesday, April 20, for Scotchtown Avenue, Goshen Intermediate, and Goshen High School.
  • The C. J. Hooker Middle School will continue with its hybrid learning model for now. We are still looking for ways to accommodate students and will continue to update our families as information unfolds.
  • The public forum to present the 4-day in-person instruction plan will be held virtually at 6:15 p.m. Monday, April 19. You may submit comments via Google form.
  • Please be reminded that if parents/guardians did not submit their child’s learning plan by the questionnaire due date or did not directly contact their child’s building administrators, that child must follow the remote learning plan and should not report to the buildings on Tuesday.

I recognize that many of you are frustrated. I, too, am frustrated. I again ask that you please be patient as we continue our attempts to make 4-day in-person instruction a reality for all students at Goshen Schools.

Sincerely,

Daniel T. Connor
Superintendent of Schools