December 5, 2020
Dear Batavia Blue Devil Families,
As the number of positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise across New York State and specifically in Genesee County (8% positive test rate - current highest in NY) it brings a number of challenges for the school district.
These challenges include but are not limited to the following:
Our ongoing ability to staff in-person learning with certified staff members.
Guidance regarding close contact and quarantining: we continue to have a large number of students and staff members unable to attend in-person learning and work because of the fact that educators/ district staff are not designated as essential employees under current New York State Department of Health guidance which forces them to quarantine even if they are not showing symptoms.
Despite the CDC reducing the number of days for quarantining to 7-10 days, the NYSDOH is still requiring a 14-day quarantining window.
Social gatherings are still occurring outside of school, which bring new positive cases into our school district.
The influx of parent and family requests that want to move their children from in-person hybrid learning to a 100% full virtual model.
Over this last week our number of total positive cases in our schools increased to 39 and the number of students and staff that have had to quarantine as a result was over 100 between our four school buildings.
Therefore, I have made the difficult decision to move our school district to 100% Virtual Remote Learning effective immediately and through the upcoming winter break. I will monitor and reassess this decision and I will provide families an update prior to our return on Monday, January 4th.
Moving our entire district to 100% Virtual Remote Learning will give us the ability to focus primarily on one mode of teaching and learning and allow us to prepare for updated guidance from NYS that prioritizes safe in-person learning for all. Families of children who receive specialized instruction and various mandated therapy will be contacted by the district with options for tele-therapy and targeted support. BOCES Career Technical Education students will also attend their program virtually. This does not impact out-of-district placements and students who attend BOCES Alternative Academy and ITP programs. For the majority of our students this equates to the loss of 5 in-person learning days over the course of the next 12 school days.
The district will continue to provide daily breakfast and lunch for pickup at Jackson Primary and John Kennedy from 8AM to 12PM during this period.
It is also important to remind you that if we are to return to any form of in-person learning that we still need parents and guardians to fill out our consent form located here: https://forms.gle/v8irfy5M5VCMRMfE7 To date, we only have 483 (24%) of in-person learning families who have given consent. Please know that if and when we are designated a color zone, that random testing will be required and only families who give consent will be able to attend in-person learning.
At a time where we should be focused on celebrating an upcoming winter break and spending time with our families, I know that this decision will impact many of you negatively and that is not my intent. Ultimately, my intent and one of my main responsibilities as your Superintendent, is to always protect the physical and mental health and safety of our students, staff and community.
If you have any additional questions or concerns please feel free to call your child’s school for support.
WE are Better Together…WE are Batavia!!!
Anibal Soler, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools