Reopening & Coronavirus Info
Latest Update from Superintendent Gumina
February 26, 2021
Dear Webster CSD Parents/Guardians,
I hope that you and your children got to enjoy the February recess together. Many of you have continued to reach out regarding the topic that remains on all of our minds: when will our schools return to in-person learning five days a week? Just before break, I shared that Webster’s goal and my expectation was that our district would be back to full-time school in September. Over the last two weeks, I, and all of the other area superintendents, have continued to have conversations with Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza who has provided updates on efforts to reopen even sooner than September.
There are science-driven metrics that must be met in order for Monroe County area schools to reopen safely, including access to the vaccine, declining infection rates, and relaxing the six-foot rule. Over the last two weeks, we have seen remarkable advances in not only our faculty and staff receiving and having access to the vaccine, but also another vaccine getting closer to emergency use approval by the FDA (thank you, Johnson & Johnson!). All area superintendents are asking the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) for measurable, objective data based on science that can be used as metrics to guide our reopening plans. As I shared with our staff this morning, there are a few key factors that come into play before 100% in-person school can become the norm once again:
1.) The six-foot rule has to be amended. I can't do that unilaterally and neither can Dr. Mendoza. That decision must come from the NYSDOH. So what would result in the NYSDOH making that amendment? That brings me to step two.
2.) NYSDOH is currently reviewing our region’s seven-day rolling average of new COVID cases. Right now, it's 140+ new cases per day, but that number is rapidly decreasing. If this number gets down below 45-50, then NYSDOH may decide to relax the six-foot distancing rule, especially in light of increased vaccination numbers! It’s important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has our region designated in its red zone because of our 140+ new daily cases. Red zone regions are not recommended for full-time school; however, when our regional cases decrease to below 50, we enter another zone, and then full-time school is possible.
3) The last step may be the most important one: NYSDOH looks at our region’s vaccination numbers. If we have had access to the vaccine and a significant number of us are double- dosed, that will be a significant factor in reducing the six-foot distance rule.
As I’ve said many times before, our testing data and safety measures indicate that schools are safe places to be. That fact, along with a declining community infection rate and increased opportunities to be vaccinated are propelling conversations forward regarding the potential to reopen this school year. Again, this is not a scenario that I would have thought plausible as recently as just last month, and it is indicative of how quickly information is being updated… sometimes on a daily basis.
I want to reiterate that my sole objective whenever we reopen is to ensure the safety of your children. To that end, I do need to ask for all of your feedback on this important matter. In the next week, you will receive a survey regarding the reopening of schools (staff and students will also be surveyed). It will be critical that we receive your feedback in a timely manner. It is also important to note that with a district the size of Webster (8,300 students in 11 schools), any pivot to 100% in-person learning will not occur in a day or two. Reopening will be a process that will take many weeks and will absolutely require your continued patience as we attempt to sort out logistics around busing, lunches, scheduling, and the most complicated one, staffing.
I appreciate those of you who have taken the time to reach out to me with your questions and concerns. As a district, we remain committed to following all state and county guidance, and making science-driven decisions that maintain the safety of our students and staff. Please watch your email for the parent/guardian survey in the coming days. I remain thankful for your support.
Superintendent of Schools
* PLEASE NOTE: You have received a message from the Webster Central School District. Due to the time sensitive nature of the information, the message has been sent in English. Should you need assistance translating the message into your preferred language, please email your child's principal and he/she will arrange for an interpreter to call you back. Please include the best phone number at which you may be reached. You may also use the Google Translate feature on the district website’s reopening and coronavirus information page (scroll to the bottom of the page) to read this letter by visiting www.websterschools.org/reopening.
A new year and a new beginning. Although much of what we collectively experience still feels the same, the availability of a vaccine and a return to experiences we have missed illuminates our way. We eagerly await guidance from county and state leadership to provide the data-driven metrics for districts to implement regarding a safe reopening in schools across the county.
The board of education has maintained our work and found new ways to stay connected and informed. We have witnessed the steadfast commitment of our district to provide the best educational experiences possible for all students within the confines of a global pandemic. We may all be exhausted by virtual conferences and are all too familiar with Zoom and Google Meet, but both have been extraordinary tools that keep us connected.
Another tool is our newly launched web page. We have created this expanded presence to further communicate our work, our commitment to support teachers and staff as they educate our students, and provide an additional resource for the public to learn more about your board of education. We have endeavored to serve our community the best way we can. Thank you to the district communication team as they helped our vision become real. In a few easy clicks, there is more information available to increase understanding and create an awareness of how our work moves this district forward.
We will continue to be present through our virtual connections and listen to those present. Webster Central PTSA and each building PTSA have devised creative ways to connect students and families. From virtual snowmen to yoga and magic shows, creative thinking and the desire to create valuable experiences for Webster families has been extraordinary. We thank them for their ingenuity and commitment.
Our meetings have been live streamed with open invitations to our community members to participate in public comment. This has worked well with BOE liaisons (Webster Thomas and Webster Schroeder students and the Webster Teachers Association) and has enabled ongoing communication and awareness of school activities.
Your board of education hopes that our next steps are taken together and we work as OneWebster to navigate this uncharted territory. We stress the importance of following leadership and guidance as it takes shape. Information will be accessible, straightforward, and based on facts as we know them. When an event of this magnitude strikes, it calls upon our better selves to move forward toward a brighter future. We hope we take those steps together, trusting the district will always place the education and safety of our students as paramount in all that we do.
Please stay safe and healthy! We will continue to reach out with more information as it becomes available.
Webster Board of Education
* PLEASE NOTE: You have received a message from the Webster Central School District. Due to the time sensitive nature of the information, the message has been sent in English. Should you need assistance translating the message into your preferred language, please email your child's principal and he/she will arrange for an interpreter to call you back. Please include the best phone number at which you may be reached. You may also use the Google translate feature on the district website’s reopening and coronavirus information page (scroll to the bottom of the page) to read this letter by visiting www.websterschools.org/reopening.