OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
Dear Camden Parents and Staff Members,
I am really pleased that this is the 12th school day since our students reported back to school on Tuesday, September 8th and we are making good progress. Camden Administrators, Faculty and Staff all worked very hard these last few months implementing plans in preparation to open school during COVID 19 and it paid off. The majority of staff members I have spoken with are settling in and feeling more and more comfortable while still being safe. We need to continue to adapt and work hard to make adjustments as needed, but overall, our opening of school has been very successful up to this point.
Most of our parents and students have been both positive and grateful to have students back in school. Our students have really impressed me these first few days. Most students are happy to be back in school and they are following the rules associated with returning to school. I have heard students talk about how much they like smaller class sizes and having the opportunity to see friends, faculty and staff whom they don’t see when they are home. I am also impressed by most parents who have been supportive and patient as we work through issues related to technology, devices, communication and academic support. Parents should reach out to communicate with their student’s teacher when they have a question. Teachers will help you find a resolution or let you know who you need to contact with your concern.
We are truly taking this a day at a time. I am grateful for every day we have students in school. I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that should we have a student or staff member test positive for COVID 19, we will have that building of learners begin learning remotely for 2-5 days to allow for contact tracing and a deep cleaning of the building. All families need to be prepared to have back up plans for their student in case the building has to go remote at any time during the school year.
Families also need to have backup plans if their child becomes ill. It is important that parents communicate with their school to share the reason when a student is ill. Our Attendance Offices, School Nurse’s and Administrators need parents to call the school the same day their student is absent and report the reason for the absence. The goal is to follow the regulations and keep ill students home and healthy students in school. Students with COVID 19 like symptoms are recommended to go to their Medical Provider to either be tested or receive a diagnoses that the symptoms are in relation to another type of illness. This note, will allow the student to return to school when the symptoms have passed. Parents, please call your school to share the reason why your student is absent whenever they are absent. If you don’t do this, your student will be asked when they return to school and may be sent home if they have symptoms that align with COVID 19. Students displaying COVID 19 like symptoms who are not tested will be out of school for a minimum of 10 calendar days. This is necessary, due to the health and safety concerns during this Pandemic.
One of the goals discussed by the Camden School Board and myself has been to offer our students’ the opportunity to participate in athletics, clubs, and academic teams in order to help meet the physical, social and emotional needs of our students. The Camden School Board of Education, School Physician, Athletic Director and I reviewed the forty page guidance document from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) titled, “Return to Athletics”, along with specific team plans that adhere to the guidance provided. Many safety measures have been put in place to make this return to athletics as safe as possible. The current low infection rate and the fact that Fall sports are usually played outdoors supports competing in a manner that is consistent with the NYSPHSAA guidelines. Our return to athletics is day to day similar to in person instruction which is also day to day. For example, if we have a building switch to all remote learning for students due to a person who tests positive for COVID 19, we will not hold practices or games during that same time period for obvious health and safety reasons. First, we do not want to bring students together and increase the exposure of our students and staff members following a positive test by a person in the building. We will also need a few days to allow for the Department of Health to conduct contact tracing and recommend COVID 19 Testing for some students. Therefore, if Camden Middle School moves to all students learning remotely, we will not hold practices or games for our modified teams and if Camden High School switches to all remote learning we will not hold practices or games for Junior Varsity and Varsity teams. If we could conduct athletics in a virtual manner that would still meet the physical, social and emotional needs of students, we would be interested to hear more about it.
In addition to athletics, we are also returning various extracurricular clubs, academic teams and student groups. The will be able to start up over the next few weeks. These groups will have the opportunity to begin meeting virtually, whenever possible, keeping with our goal of providing these opportunities in a manner that is as safe as possible. One excellent example of this is the Middle School Musical which will be held virtually this year. It is important to remember that many of our students are comfortable communicating virtually as opposed to in person. Yes, it is always nice to have a live audience, but we cannot gather large groups of people indoors at this time. Having these events virtually allows everyone to view them in a safe manner. I also have good news to share. Many of the clubs, teams and group opportunities that have always started during this time of year will begin soon in spite of the hurdles we face to offer these opportunities. It is also important to note that a virtual model is a durable model for extracurricular activities that allows them to continue, even if all students are sent home to learn remotely due to a positive COVID 19 Test.
Some of the struggles we continue to work through relate to technology devices and remote learning. We ordered hundreds of Chromebook devices last March, and they are arriving very slowly. We have been told there is a shortage of devices across the world and will take time to for us to receive all of the devices we ordered. it may be several weeks before they arrive. As the devices arrive, we will put them in the hands of our students as soon as possible.
Parents with students who are learning 100% remotely during this time with remote learning questions should share their questions with the teacher. When a parent or student needs to meet with a teacher, we ask that parents please schedule a time to meet with them on a Monday. Teachers are creating remote lessons and have allotted time to meet with students learning 100% remote every Monday.
In closing, I want to thank the Camden School Community for their patience and understanding during this difficult time. Working together as a TEAM will allow us to work through and overcome the hurdles we face in a collective manner. This is the effort our students need and deserve from all of us.
Wishing You All The Best!
Dr. Ravo Root
Superintendent of Camden Central Schools