From Mr. Berson: a message and Q&A

"We will have hope together, we will dream big dreams together, we will persevere together."

Dear Families and Community Members:

At this time, Otselic Valley Central School is under extended closure by executive order of Governor Cuomo at least until April 1, 2020, and potentially until April 14, 2020, and by order of the Chenango County Health Department. The intent behind these county-wide school closings is to accomplish social distancing, which we now know is a powerful tool for slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.  

The challenge at the moment is to make sure our students, staff, families, and community members stay healthy. We've learned from other countries across the world that the virus spreads fast, but it needs people in public spaces to keep going.  Even if individuals are thankfully without symptoms, it is very easy to spread the virus to others in our community who are more vulnerable.

We appreciate how disruptive all this can be for our students and their families. In a matter of days our staff have fundamentally transformed the way Otselic Valley provides instruction, learning opportunities, and much needed meals to our students. All staff have been working hard to implement academic support and serve student needs in this new, uncharted school-scape. They are also  helping each other with  shared resources and best practices. 

The district will have a deep cleaning in the coming days that will include work by custodial and some support staff. Home delivery of breakfast, lunch, and backpack program food items have placed food service, school aides, and bus drivers on the front lines, literally meeting our students where they are. Adversity inspires innovation, and we are very proud of our staff's commitment to finding a way to serve students, even in unusual situations. 

The most important thing you can do now is stay connected. Contact information for teachers is in materials delivered to your students. You can connect with school about food deliveries and more via the Parent/Guardian Contact Information survey, which remains open. Click here to access the digital survey:  https://bit.ly/2w366df

We’ve also received a number of questions we can answer here. 

Are upcoming Board of Education and committee meetings still on? 
The school board is informed and aware, but we suggest checking the website and the district  Facebook page for upcoming meeting schedule information.

I can’t find the Parent/Guardian Information Survey my children brought home. What should I do?
You can still fill out the digital survey instead: https://bit.ly/2w366df

Are any events still on?
No. All school athletic and extracurricular activities, and town activities at school locations are postponed until the district reopens. By limiting social contact, the virus has nowhere to go, the outbreak lessens we hope, and our community stays healthier.

Are spring sports postponed too?
Section III athletics, in conjunction with its member leagues, has suspended the season based on the unfolding COVID-19 public health threat. Executive Director John Rathbun said, “The official start date for all Spring Sports will be April 14, 2020.”  The full memo will be posted on our website.

Will students lose summer break? And what’s happening with the assessment, SATs, etc.?
It is still too early to make a determination, and school districts are currently awaiting guidance. The district must apply for waivers when assessments and other testing are impacted. 

SATs scheduled for last Saturday were postponed, and students and parents must watch for alerts from the testing host locations, the SAT website, and Ms. Moisan's Otselic Valley CSD Guidance Office Facebook page.

We don’t have reliable internet access so how can my child stay connected to lessons?
We understand. Paper coursework was sent home because some of our students have limited and/or no access. If you have any challenges with this, please stay in touch  with your child's teacher about what you need. 

How can I connect with my children’s teachers?
Email, phone, and sometimes video  -- these will be decided individually by teachers. For example, Ms. Graham has created a Facebook Group for PreK-6th Physical Education, Ms. Cantrell is using Google Classroom, and Mrs. Osowski is using video conferencing. Also watch for updates from our principal, Mrs. Richards. If you have any questions about how to connect with teachers, please ask. 

What’s happening with items that  need to be picked up for fundraisers?
We are working with clubs, organizations, and advisors to get more information on this. Please watch Facebook and the website for updates.

We are concerned about food.
"To go" breakfasts and lunches are delivered Monday-Friday (or are doubled up for deliveries covering 2 days), and get to students' homes along bus routes. If you have not yet signed up for food delivery, fill out the digital Parent/Guardian Information Survey or contact Mrs. Burpee: [email protected] 

Families receiving weekend food as part of the Backpack Program will also receive deliveries via bus drop-off. If you are not part of the Backpack Program but want to be, contact Mrs. Stacie Morse: [email protected]  It may take a day to get you added to either list, so please plan accordingly.

Additionally,  bagged breakfasts and lunches will be available for children age 18 and under at the school building in South Otselic and the school building in Georgetown between the hours of 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM starting Monday, March 23, 2020. They do not have to be  OV students to get food. We will also continue to deliver meals to the students at their homes.  Please contact the school with any questions.

Is  there  a school hotline we can call for other school questions and concerns?
The  district  continues to have an open door  policy. Please email and/or call using the normal lines of communication.

Clearly, the beauty of Otselic Valley lies within the capacity of the community to pivot quickly to address any adversity. Things can change rapidly as we've seen, so please watch for updates.

This time is an opportunity for us to shine, from our youngest Vikings to our savvy veteran staff and community members. This is possible because we are not a group, we are a team. We are all connected and dependent upon one other in both big and small ways. The growth and success we achieve during this time will be directly connected to each person’s drive to  serve others.

When faced with uncertainty and fear, we must acknowledge it but know that it will not define us. The Otselic Valley community will continue to walk together, one step at a time, if need be. We will have hope together, we will dream big dreams together, we will persevere together. 

The character and integrity of the Valley shines brightest when the stakes are highest.

Mr. Berson

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