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Superintendent's Corner


Superintendent's Update LiveStream

March 27, 2020

Dear Port Jefferson Families,

Thank you for your patience and support as we navigate through this challenging time. With changing information being provided by elected officials and representatives from the healthcare industry on a daily basis, we have continued to communicate the most up-to-date messages to our school community. We have been working collaboratively with our Board of Education, administrators, and teachers to plan for our distance learning opportunities for our students. The following letter hopes to clarify and outline expectations regarding the distance learning model that will be implemented on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Beginning Monday, teachers will be providing one lesson per day for each of their classes. Lessons may vary in content and approach depending on the subject being taught. Teachers will host synchronous and/or asynchronous instructional activities. Lessons will be posted daily or through the use of a weekly calendar; individual teachers will be communicating with parents in regard to their preferred method of posting the assigned lessons. In addition, there will be “office hours” where parents and students can contact their teachers for assistance. Please recognize that nothing can replace the experience your children have in our schools. Distance learning will never be able to exactly replicate a traditional schedule for your children. As we venture into this new reality, we thank you for your continued support and flexibility. We will work collaboratively to continually reassess our plans and adjust as necessary.

A drafted schedule has been created to help manage this type of learning, recognizing the tremendous difficulty this scenario presents for many of our families (working from home while children are engaged in learning). We understand this schedule may not work for every family, but it is our attempt to ensure students in multiple courses are not overburdened during the same time frame. A copy of the schedule for each of the buildings is attached to this correspondence. Please contact your building principal with any questions pertaining to the schedule and class assignments.

As the third quarter draws to an end for the middle school and high school students, there may be some concerns about grades due to the closure. Administrators and teachers have been working together and agreed to extend the third quarter by two weeks so that students can submit their work. Currently, the third quarter is due to end on Friday, April 3, 2020; our plan extends the third quarter until Friday, April 17, 2020. The fourth quarter will begin on Monday, April 20, 2020. We are still awaiting a decision from the State with regards to the Regents exams, and as soon as we have more information, we will share that information with you.

Today, Governor Cuomo announced that school closure is extended to April 15, 2020. Given this new timeline, distance learning will be suspended on Thursday, April 9, 2020 and Friday, April 10, 2020 for religious observances. Please continually check the Port Jefferson School District website and Facebook page for additional changes to our scheduled calendar events. We also have added a Frequently Asked Questions page to our District website providing specific information with regards to Driver Education, the Parent Portal, AP Exams and other pertinent information. This page will also be continually updated as we receive information.

Our students' well-being is always a priority and we want to encourage you to reach out to your building support staff and principal to assist you during this trying time. Students may not always express their fears or anxiety; however, should you notice a change in their behavior, let us know.  We are here for you. We are in this together.

Jessica Schmettan
Superintendent


March 15, 2020

Dear Port Jefferson Families,
As you may have heard, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has ordered all Suffolk Schools closed for a period of two weeks . This means Port Jefferson Schools will be closed through March 27, 2020 and resume March 30, 2020. Staff will report as scheduled for a conference day on March 16.

As you know this is a rapidly changing situation that will be reassessed during the closure. We expect calendar changes and may need to be in session during the previously scheduled spring break . All to be determined.

Remember this closure is to protect the public’s health. It is not designed for vacation or gatherings. We recommend you practice the CDC guidelines for social distancing.

We know these are challenging times for our families. Our school community is here to help. Look for regular updates on our social media platforms and our website. We will get through together .

Jessica Schmettan
Superintendent

 

March 2020

Dear Port Jefferson Families,

On behalf of the Board of Education and myself, I am updating you with the latest information regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the preparations we have in place in the Port Jefferson School District.

Our primary focus is the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff and community.  We have been closely monitoring information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Suffolk County Department of Health.  In addition to those online resources, we have maintained updated information through the following venues:

  • On Tuesday, March 3rd, I attended a workshop with New York State Department of Health in Albany where the focus was the COVID-19.
  • On Wednesday, March 4th, a few of my staff members attended with me a Suffolk County School Superintendents Association meeting on the COVID-19.  Present at this meeting were the Suffolk County Department of Health, the Police Department, and Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services.  Guidance was given on best practices and resources to address the concerns and issues associated with this virus.
  • On Thursday March 5th, I met with my Administrative team to update them with all current information and addressed the procedures and protocols for the staff.
  • On Thursday, I also met with the School District Safety Committee which is made up of staff and our community partners (Village of Port Jefferson & Fire Department).

Principals will hold faculty meetings in all three schools to update the staff.  These meetings will discuss the signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus and basic procedures to stop the spread of germs. Our nursing staff has already been instructed on protocol should a student or staff member appear symptomatic. 

All classrooms have hand-sanitizing stations or handwashing sinks. In addition to our regular custodial cleaning protocols, the following additional precautionary steps are being taken:

  • Desktops are being disinfected nightly.
  • Computers and keyboards are being disinfected multiple times a day.
  • All common touch surfaces such as door handles, bathroom faucets, and stairwell handrails are being wiped down multiple times a day.
  • Athletic equipment will be sterilized each day.
  • High touch areas on buses on are being disinfected by Suffolk Transportation Drivers.

Although at this time we do not have any confirmed cases in our area, arrangements are being made in the event we are forced to close schools.  Should the District receive word of any cases, or additional guidance from county, state and federal health professionals, we will certainly share that with our staff, students, parents and residents.  Please know the District takes direction regarding health matters from local health departments and the CDC, and will continue to keep communication lines open as we monitor the situation.  

We remain sensitive to implicit biases that may be associated with the virus.  All members of our school community have the right to be safe, valued, educated and respected.  Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Jessica Schmettan
Superintendent of Schools

 

February 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian & Community Members:

Due to the growing media coverage and concerns people may have regarding Coronavirus (2019-nCOoV), we are sharing the following information that has been provided to us by the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Department of Education:

A new coronavirus called 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first found in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.  This virus had not been found in humans before.  This coronavirus can lead to fever, cough and trouble breathing or shortness of breath.  There are thousands of diagnosed cases in China and new cases being diagnosed in a number of countries including the United States.

What do we know?
Since this virus is very new, health authorities continue to carefully watch how this virus spreads. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working hard to learn as much as possible about this new virus, so that we can better understand how it spreads and causes illness. The CDC considers this virus to be a serious public health concern. Based on current information the CDC recommends avoiding travel to China. Updated travel information related to 2019‚ÄźnCoV can be found at 
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/novel-coronavirus-china

How Does 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus Spread?
Health experts believe the virus probably spreads from animals to humans and from person to person. It’s not clear yet how easily the virus spreads from person-to-person. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) is not currently a concern for the general public and is not actively circulating among New Yorkers at this time. Therefore, there is no need to cancel school or social events, and there is no need for students or school staff to wear surgical masks at school.

Prevention
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against this virus. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) recommends the following ways to minimize the spread of all respiratory viruses, including 2019-nCoV:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash. 
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. 
  • CDC recommends that travelers avoid all travel to China.

 
Symptoms
Information to date suggests that 2019-nCoV causes mild-to-moderate illness and symptoms like the flu, including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Are visitors from China being screened?
Yes, as of February 2nd new screening protocols are conducted for individuals entering the US from China at designated airports. 
PreK-12 schools may have students who attend school and have traveled to various areas in Asia, including China. Students should not be excluded from school or any school activities based on race, country of origin, or recent travel (or a family member’s recent travel), including to any part of China. Schools may only exclude a student if a local health department informs the school that a student must comply with a quarantine order or the student is symptomatic of a communicable or infectious disease pursuant to Education Law §906.

Important Health Information for Those Who Have Recently Traveled to Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and Experience Symptoms
 
If you recently traveled to Wuhan, China and feel sick with fever, cough or trouble breathing; OR you develop symptoms within 14 days of traveling there, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Call ahead and tell them about your travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Stay home, except for seeking medical care.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Contact your local health department.

This is an emerging, rapidly changing situation. For questions, please contact your local department of health or the NYS DOH Novel Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065.

We encourage you to keep up to date about 2019-nCoV, its treatment and prevention by visiting the following websites:

Additional Resources:
CDC’s dedicated 2019-nCoV website at https://www.cdc.gov/nCoV.
NYSDOH’s dedicated 2019-nCoV website at https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/
NYSDOH directory of local health departments https://www.health.ny.gov/contact/contact_information/
New York State Center for School Health website at http://www.schoolhealthny.com

Please know that since this is an ever-changing situation, we will keep you updated via our website and social media as soon as any new information is shared with us.

Sincerely,

Jessica Schmettan
Superintendent of Schools

Sunday, March 29, 2020