PLATTSBURGH — Champlain Valley Educational Services BOCES and its 16 component school districts are closed until at least April 19 in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The decision followed a meeting between CVES, the 16 school district superintendents and local public health officials Sunday morning, according to a CVES press release.
There remained no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Clinton or Essex counties.
The school districts, in collaboration with the county health departments, will remain in regular communication to assess the situation.
County health department directors strongly recommended the schools’ closure, according to the CVES press release.
Extension of the closure, which will encompass the April school recess, is possible and any changes in its duration will be communicated.
Each school district superintendent will share information with parents, guardians and students regarding the possible delivery of instruction during the closure and their plans-in-place for delivery of non-instructional services, such as student nutrition and mental health supports.
All school extracurricular activities are cancelled or postponed during the closure.
Faculty and staff of CVES and all 16 component school districts are to report to work today as usual.
Peru Central School District Superintendent of Schools Dr. Thomas Palmer said his district would be finalizing plans Monday for digital classrooms.
All students in grades six through 12 have Chromebooks, so teachers at that level will give instruction using tools like Google Hangouts.
At the elementary level, they will utilize videos and packets of work, Palmer said.
The district also plans to reach out to families whose children are part of the free and reduced lunch program Monday to find out who is interested in continuing to participate during the closure.
Those meals will be delivered by bus.
Palmer has also reached out to Behavioral Health Services North.
"We just want to make sure that we’re also taking care of the social and emotional health of our kids."
Palmer wanted families to know that the district will continually communicate with them and share the information it learns.
"We will do the best job that we can to try to educate their children even during this difficult time."
STRONG, REALISTIC PLAN
Plattsburgh City School District Superintendent Jay Lebrun said his district had been planning for a possible closure for the past two weeks.
"We have a strong, realistic plan for the delivery of home-based instruction during this closure. Parents will receive a summary of this plan tonight (Sunday).
Beyond the delivery of instruction, this plan also addresses the ongoing provision of student meals, the continuation of student supports, et cetera."
Lebrun said students and parents could have confidence that quality instruction would continue, though in a different format.
The district will continue to keep its constituents updated as decisions regarding state, Regents, AP, and ACT/SAT testing; Board of Education elections; and state and local budget votes are made.
"People who work in public education — from faculty and staff to boards of education — are dedicated to supporting education to the best of their abilities," Lebrun said.
Though this closure will change some of the ways in which this is accomplished, the basic philosophy which has always guided our collective efforts remains."
'DOING THE BEST THEY CAN'
Momot Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization Co-President Jennifer Latour said she was lucky because her parents live right next door and can take care of her daughters, ages 11 and 8.
But she recognized a lot of Momot families do not have that luxury.
“I think, for some of the families, it’s going to be very hard, for the working parents that need to find somebody to watch their kids," Latour said.
The PTO had canceled some of its events scheduled this week to prepare. Latour added that the group was always willing to help any of the school’s families.
“We have a lot of teachers that are involved with the PTO and they have already said that if any families needed any food or anything, they’d be there to help.”
She thinks the long-term closures will help in the long run.
“I just know that they’re doing the best they can to try and keep everybody safe.”
SETON CATHOLIC CLOSING
Seton Catholic Principal Mary Forbes announced that the Plattsburgh private school would also close its doors until at least April 19.
"We do this with heavy hearts in these uncertain times but the safety of our students, families and employees are of the utmost importance," she wrote in a letter posted to the school's Facebook page.
While all students were told Friday to bring all their books and materials home just in case, families were given the opportunity to come in today in case their children forgot something.
Elementary families can come in from 10 a.m. to noon, and middle and high school families can come in from noon to 2 p.m.
Those with children in both groups were asked to come in around noon. The building will be unavailable after 2 p.m. so the cleaning process can begin.
STEFANIK: OFFICE AVAILABLE
In a statement regarding the closure of North Country schools, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) said her office would work closely with district communities as a bridge to federal agencies and resources during this unprecedented time.
"Given recent announcements regarding school closures in our district, my office will be working closely with our North Country superintendents and school districts to keep communities healthy and children safe.
As always, please reach out to any of my offices with questions and concerns."
The CVES BOCES component school districts are:
Email Cara Chapman: