Community Letter Regarding Reopening Plan


Community Letter Regarding Reopening Plan

March 14, 2021

Dear Warwick Valley CSD Community,

Today, I found myself reflecting on the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the closure of our community and our schools a year ago. It has been a challenging year for all of us, but it is important to take a moment to celebrate our collective perseverance and accomplishments during this time. The overwhelming sentiment throughout the District is, “We miss our students and want them back in school!”

Since September, the Warwick Valley CSD Reopening Plan has aimed to provide as much in-person learning as possible for a school district with over 3,600 students, while remaining obligated to follow strict health and safety guidelines. Our faculty and staff have provided considerably more in-person instruction than comparably sized school districts in our region. They have had the willingness to be flexible and responsive during this crisis. Our students have taken on learning remotely and coming to school buildings that look different from what they left last March. And our families have been supportive, patient, and understanding, forced to make considerable sacrifices. Given the information shared below, we can now safely make some significant changes to our plan. 

We will implement the following plan, ending the hybrid/cohort model:

  • Since September – Grades K – 2 continue to receive in-person instruction five days per week.
  • March 15, 2021 – Grades 3 and 4 return to in-person instruction five days per week (rather than every other day).
  • April 6, 2021 – Grades 5 – 12 return to in-person instruction five days per week (rather than every other day).

The timing is right for returning to in-person learning:

  • Vaccinations. More and more staff are now vaccinated. Three hundred of our staff and faculty received their first vaccinations in a group clinic at the high school, and they will receive their second doses in late March. 
  • Infection rate. The regional infection rate continues to decline from the highs of the Fall and Winter seasons.
  • Trifold polycarbonate desk partitions. We will install thousands of desk partitions in the middle and high schools during spring recess, ensuring all desks in these schools have barriers. As more students will now be in the classrooms, these barriers provide additional protection. 
  • Reduced occupancy. The District will continue to provide the Distance Learning Academy to about 800 students who opted for an all-remote option. This program reduces the number of students in our school buildings by about 22%, thus maximizing physical distancing. Further, we’ve added many faculty and staff at the elementary level to keep the average class size well below that of a typical school year.
  • COVID testing. Proper COVID testing is now accessible to the school community.
  • Ventilation. The warmer weather allows for classroom and bus windows to remain open, which complements the ventilation enhancements completed this summer. With warmer weather on the way, we will maximize the use of our outdoor learning spaces.

I am confident that we will return students to all school buildings safely, given the mitigation strategies mentioned above. While we have quarantined more than 1,100 students this school year, due to the community’s diligence and the District’s mitigation strategies, the school’s transmission rate has been low, even when the community’s infection rate was concerning. However, we must all remain careful during these times. Our plans and best intentions may quickly fall short without each stakeholder’s cooperation and patience. We all bear responsibility for and have the ability to protect the health and well-being of students, staff, and families. Please support Warwick’s 3W’s to reduce the risk: wearing masks, washing hands, and watching your distance. We also ask everyone to continue to complete the COVID-19 screening survey each morning before boarding buses or entering schools.

The middle school and high school principals will contact families shortly with further details, so please remain patient, and hold your questions until you read their letters.  

Together, we will meet the challenges presented by this ever-evolving pandemic, end this school year on a very high note, and be prepared to reopen our schools in September. 


David Leach
Superintendent of Schools


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