Superintendent Johnson's letter on reopening

Supt. Johnson's letter on full reopening in September
Posted on 08/13/2021

Greetings,

A myriad of happenings across the state and nation this summer made it challenging to track how to safely and fully reopen our schools in September. With the NYS COVID-19 state of disaster emergency ending in June and with Gov. Cuomo's declaration that the state would no longer guide schools, NYS directed districts to follow recommendations by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). On Thursday, the NYS Education Department issued a helpful guide that further urged schools to follow the latest guidance issued by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. We are trained in educational best practices and school operations but have limited experience in research, medicine or disease. With all governing authorities pointing to the CDC as the leading authority, we must accept their latest recommendations. Our top priority: Apply their advice with fidelity to ensure our schools safely reopen for five-day, in-person weekly instruction.

To do this, we will resume universal indoor masking on Monday, August 16. With reopening preparations ramping up, it's crucial to start now. Unlike last year, we don't see this as a year-long commitment. Instead, let's join together and commit to the well-being of our children and staff by employing one of the top prevention strategies. With local and state transmission levels spiking, this is very important. If all goes well and we stick to the plan, we hope after a period of time local infection rate numbers drop and we can reconsider universal masking. That's something we can all strive for together. Outdoor masking during activities such as recess, physical education and athletics is optional.

Second, our classrooms and learning spaces will commit to at least 3 feet of physical distancing. It won't be perfect, but as indicated in the guidance, it is a priority. This distancing will apply to all classrooms, including our special areas like music. Unlike last year, the reduced distancing requirements will allow a full menu of learning opportunities for all children. We will strive to ensure 6 feet between students during lunches and be mindful of other mitigating practices like seating and cohorting. Our staff will continue to use every inch of space to their instructional advantage and ensure all spaces are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized daily with high-touch areas addressed throughout the day.  

Unlike last year, a daily health screen is not required for students and staff. Instead, people are strongly advised to track their symptoms and, if sick, stay home. To protect everyone, we must diligently monitor our health and take action as needed. Students and staff are directed to remain home until all symptoms of illness subside and to see their physician or pediatrician. Your doctor will direct whether you or your child will require a COVID-19 test.

Last, as our schools will return to full in-person instruction, we will no longer offer remote or hybrid education. Instead, our staff will work with families to secure appropriate medical documentation and extend home instruction per district policy for students with underlying health conditions or other conditions that prohibit their safe return. If you believe your child has an underlying health condition that prevents their return to full in-person instruction, please contact your child's principal.

Today's message is the first of our regular Friday updates leading to school reopening. We are overjoyed to welcome students back for a full reopening and look forward to working with you to make sure all children are happy, healthy and safely learning together.

NEW ADMINISTRATORS APPOINTED

Our Board of Education appointed three new administrative leaders at Thursday’s board meeting.

Dr. Orlando Marrero is our new K-12 Director of STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics. Raised in Puerto Rico, he has demonstrated a passion for fostering a strong, supportive community among students and staff and the ability to draw in all students with different interests and cultures. I expect him to build excitement for learning and personal growth and be a perfect complement to the outstanding work already happening in our classrooms.

Dr. Christine Brown Richards is the new Principal at Rogers Middle School. A Rochester native, she has an extensive background that spans a variety of settings and her love for children and passion for education is infectious. In my brief time getting to know her, I can tell she invests in people and is committed to ensuring that all voices, especially our students, are heard.

Ms. Casey Nelan is now an Assistant Principal at Irondequoit High School after stepping in as an Interim AP last school year.  She showed tremendous enthusiasm and leadership while serving our IHS students during such challenging times in 2020-21. The Bloomfield native has worked in the district for 20 years, starting at Dake Jr. HS and then moving to IHS as an English teacher.  

Read more about them here: westirondequoit.org.

CLASS SCHEDULE/TRANSPORTATION DETAILS

We posted information on our website this week with details about class schedules and transportation. Many of you may have already received some information in the mail.

  • Grades K-6: Information packets from your children’s school have been mailed out this week.
  • Grades 7-12: Class schedules are expected to be available Monday, Aug. 23 via the Infinite Campus Parent Portal.
  • Transportation: Bus schedules will be available via the Transportation tab in the portal on Thursday, Aug. 26. Preliminary schedules for in-district K-3 students are also being mailed this week. To opt-out of transportation, email maryjo_nugent@westiron.monroe.edu or call (585) 336-2992.
  • Help? Need help with IC or portal access, email:
    • K-6 - Diane Bretz: diane_bretz@westiron.monroe.edu
    • 7-8 - Becky Devos: becky_devos@westiron.monroe.edu
    • 9-12 - Howard Dutton: howard_dutton@westiron.monroe.edu

In partnership,

Aaron Johnson signature

Aaron R. Johnson, Ed. D

Superintendent of Schools