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Update Regarding COVID-19
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Let me start with the understanding that... I struggle with what to say or how to frame my thoughts with specific details regarding the Coronavirus. This COVID-19 epidemic is much different than other medical situations we've experienced in the past. One point I would like to make particularly clear - the rate of change with information is alarming. As soon as I send out a message, the likelihood of information becoming inaccurate is extremely high.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a matter of great concern. The good news is we are well equipped to manage this situation and we are not facing this issue alone. We are a part of a larger collective body where information and planning are vetted on an hourly basis. As such, I will reaffirm that more changes affecting public schools are likely to occur, and New York State agencies have been working on different aspects of the anticipated impact.
We understand that it is likely that school districts that are unable to complete 180 days of instruction due to school closings will be protected from a loss in state aid. The details are being worked out.
As of right now, no decision has been made in regards to closing Liverpool Central School District schools, however I think it is important that we all begin to prepare for the possibility that this may happen in the near future. I know that an extended closure will have a huge impact on our families in a variety of ways, so it is imperative that everyone continues to plan for the “what ifs” over the next weeks and months. We will do our best to provide parents with as much notice as possible regarding any closures, much like the local colleges and universities have done with their announcements.
In addition, we are evaluating upcoming large gatherings scheduled across the district and will determine whether they will continue on a case by case basis. We encourage anyone who has a compromised immune/respiratory system or is considered an "older adult" by the CDC (seniors, elderly) to be vigilant about attending these large gatherings and to consider the possibility of avoiding these functions if there are any concerns.
I have been involved with several other school superintendents and OCM BOCES as well as a participating member on the Coronavirus Task Force; we are tasked with sharing guidance from the CDC, NYS Department of Health, Onondaga County Executive's Office and the Onondaga County Health Department Commissioner and making recommendations to our OCM BOCES and Joint Management Team regional colleagues. It is our expectation to continue to communicate, collaborate and support one another throughout this entire ordeal.
As I described in my letter dated last Tuesday, everyone's diligence continues to be vital. Please continue to exercise good hygiene and appropriate hand-washing practices. We have started seeing school trip cancellations from various areas throughout the Eastern United States. These types of impacts on student programs will inevitably continue - obviously with additional questions and concerns.
There have been discussions at many levels regarding the district's ability to function [instructionally] on a school closure basis. We are aware of the family inconsistencies when students are asked to utilize Internet connectivity from home (or away from school). We have also talked about the significant impact school closures would have on children who rely on school-provided food (breakfast, lunch, snacks, food pantry, weekend backpacks, etc.).
All of these factors play an important and vital role with decisions for student safety. I will continue to share details as changes and updates become available.
Dr. Mark F. Potter
Superintendent of Schools