Under the circumstances, we have had a good start to the school year. Our families and staff have made sacrifices and changed our routines thereby ensuring that our children were able to return to school safely. As a school community, we have all done our best to reduce the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. That notwithstanding, the choices that we make – both in school and outside of school – can have an impact on our ability to continue in-person schooling. I cannot overemphasize the importance of following the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local department of health guidelines pertaining to social distancing, frequent handwashing, mask-wearing, and not exposing ourselves to others if we are not feeling well.
According to The New York Times’ coronavirus tracker, “there are currently only eight states or territories where the rate of new cases is low and staying low: Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York, Hawaii, Maine, Vermont, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” There are 33 states where cases are high and staying high. Closer to home, in comparison to the rest of Rockland County, the rate of transmission of students aged 5 to 17 in the South Orangetown Central School District remains relatively low and I am confident this is due to the choices we have made and the precautions that we have taken. Subsequently, we have had the most “in-person” opportunities for all of our students in grades K-12.
We are all weary of this pandemic – and because we are weary, we may be prone to making errors in judgement. So now is the time to “stiffen our resolve” and approach this health crisis with the same determination and grit that has allowed us to continue our mission of “elevating, engaging, and inspiring” our young learners. I mention this since the holidays will soon be upon us and that we will all have to weigh the risks associated with public gatherings. We will each have to make smart choices in the weeks ahead relating to activities such as Trick-or-Treating, Thanksgiving, and Winter Recess. We need to remember that we have a responsibility to keep ourselves and each other safe and this will require changing our behaviors. I would encourage each of you to read the guidance from the CDC pertaining to Holiday Celebrations in order that you can make the best choices possible towards reducing our risks to COVID-19 exposure.
Now, more than ever, our health and happiness depends on our commitment to making good choices and minimizing the risks of COVID-19. With this in mind, here’s wishing each of you health and happiness in anticipation of a very different holiday season.