Coronavirus Update March 16
A Message from the Superintendent of Schools
for Parents and Community about the Closing of
the Harrison Central School District
Update: March 16, 2020
Dear Members of the Harrison Learning Community,
The well-being of your children is first and foremost on my mind; it never leaves my mind.
Today, faculty finalized instructional plans to ensure a smooth transition to Learning From Home for our students while schools are closed through March 27, and possibly longer. Coronavirus has had a limited impact on children; however, the psychological impacts are compelling. We have done our best to address the academic, as well as the social and emotional needs of your children. Your partnership during these difficult days is critical.
My communication is broken into two parts, the first is to update you about my decision to close schools, to offer support in making a frightening time for your children less so, and to provide updates on the latest developments. The second part of the communication introduces our Learning from Home platform that begins tomorrow, March 17 for all students.
We currently have no confirmed cases of Coronavirus in our District. However, I decided that closing our schools was the best course of action to limit risk to students, faculty, and staff; slow the rate of community transmission; and compel a more decisive statewide response. On March 4, I sent a letter to our community that stated…
...the health and welfare of your children and of your neighbors are inextricably linked. I urge you to act using common sense and to care for yourself and others to help keep everyone healthy and safe. In caring for your family, you are caring for your community.
My decision to close our schools is based on the inextricable link between our schools and our community.
Your children may be frightened and confused. Child psychologists consistently advise providing accurate information to children and adolescents. There is anxiety and concern stemming from unreliable information and public panic, fueled by an ineffective governmental response. It is important to reassure your children with measured, accurate and developmentally appropriate communication.
Honor your children’s concerns, answer their questions honestly, and share information in language your child can understand. Here are some facts and resources: The virus has had a limited impact on children and healthy adults. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance about the risk to individuals remains unchanged and identifies older adults, individuals with serious chronic medical conditions, or immunocompromised as at risk. The World Health Organization states The majority of people who become infected are expected to be asymptomatic or recover without needing special treatment. The most reliable source of information remains the Centers for Disease Control.
I and every member of our administrative team, our union leaders, and the Board of Education have devoted their time and energy to making thoughtful, fact-based choices to ensure the safety and well-being of all we serve.
Principals, Instructional Directors, and teachers spent today supporting one another in preparation for a smooth transition to Learning from Home for our students. In the near term while your children may not be gathered together in our schools, we will remain a connected community.
On a final note, I share an update provided to the Board and faculty. The anecdote captures the amazing school district that you have helped us to create, schools where our children feel safe, valued and connected.
Dear BOE and Colleagues,
Perhaps the most empowering and bittersweet part of what occurred at the end of the day on Friday was the reaction of students to the closing of their schools.
Every principal told me of how they were personally overwhelmed by experiencing the sadness of students having to leave school - uncertain of when they might return. Principals and students both realizing all that was about to be lost, time together, senior moments, concerts, plays, athletics, unable to be in a place where they feel a sense of welcome and belonging. There was no cheering in the halls.
The reaction of children K-12 was the same – sadness about not being able to come to school. A particularly compelling story was shared about a little boy. As the boy was leaving, he looked up at his teacher and asked that she please remember to still tell her jokes on the camera just like she does in the class.
Kids will miss being in school, what a powerful testament about how meaningful our school experience is for our children. These are incredibly difficult and trying times for each of us, but especially for our students. Perhaps remembering our students’ love of their schools and of their teachers offers nourishment for our hearts as we face the difficult days ahead. I know it nourished mine.
Our students will be far away; our district’s challenge is to keep them closer than ever – and I know we will. Thank you all for everything you are doing and will do for your children and our schools.
Below is the second part of my communication, where I introduce with pride our commitment to keeping your children connected while they are away from school – Learning From Home.
Louis N. Wool, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Learning From Home
Our District has created Learning From Home, thoughtfully developed resources to guide student learning while our schools are closed. This webpage provides all the information that you and your child will need to access learning on a daily basis.
Learn From Home begins tomorrow, March 17th
We are prepared to support student learning remotely. In preparation for this monumental transition, the teachers have designed lessons, assignments, and resources that can be accessed by students and parents through online learning platforms. Online learning begins for all students tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17 and can be accessed from our new webpage Learning From Home.
We will continue to provide building-level counseling services during the school closure to the greatest extent possible. This will include counseling services via Google Hangouts/Meet which is a web-based video platform. Students currently receiving services will be contacted by school counselors or psychologists.
How can I help my kids succeed in learning at home?
I encourage you to explore the entire Learning From Home website; however, I recommend you begin with the elementary schedule templates and secondary schedule templates to structure your child’s day. Helping students organize their time to be actively engaged in learning is one of the most effective ways to reduce the anxiety they may be experiencing. Being away from school, teachers, and friends is a new and confounding experience, so providing structure and supervision creates a sense of normalcy and routine.
Communication with Principals
Your child’s principal will be communicating by email while schools are closed. The principals are available to support your child during this time. Please watch for regular emails from principals. District Directors of Instruction are available via voicemail and email to respond to questions and concerns. Contact information is available on the District website.
Students Eligible for Free and Reduced Meals
The District will provide breakfast and lunch for students eligible for free meals. Meals will be available each weekday between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Eligible students have been contacted and selected one of the four elementary schools as a pickup site.
If Your Child Needs a Device
If your child does not have a technology device, the District will provide a device (Chromebook or iPad), please complete this form. Devices will be distributed on Tuesday, March 17 from 8:00 - 11:00 a.m. at the LMK Middle School. If your family does not have internet access, the District will provide a mobile hotspot to deliver internet access. If you have questions or concerns contact, Brian Seligman by phone (914) 638- 3389 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Elementary Parent Conferences
Parent conferences with elementary school teachers will proceed as originally planned, and be provided remotely. Expect to hear from your child’s teacher to confirm your conference time. If you need to reschedule a conference, please email your child’s teacher.
Transportation to all public, private and parochial schools is suspended until further notice.
District Events and School Activities
All school-related activities and events, including sports practices, are canceled. Updates will be provided as they become available.