Schools are opening Thursday, Sept. 2

Dear parents, students and members of the Florida Community:

We hope you are enjoying your summer and are spending time with family and friends. We look forward to welcoming your child(ren) back to Golden Hill and S. S. Seward Institute on Sept. 2, 2021.

We will be opening schools at full capacity in September and are currently preparing our buildings for full-time (five days/week) in-person learning.

Yesterday, Governor Hochul outlined a comprehensive plan to ensure a safe and productive return to schools. On August 17, 2021, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) provided health and safety guidance and
recommendations regarding school reopening plans, a link can be found on our website.

As always, providing for the health, safety and well-being of our students, staff and entire community is our highest priority. Superintendents in our region, supported by Orange-Ulster BOCES, the Florida PPE team, and Florida school board, have had several meetings to determine the necessary steps to get all of our students back in school safely. In making these difficult decisions, we are constantly monitoring local data supplied to us by the Orange County
Department of Health, as well as statements issued by:

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC): “Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2
    (Delta) variant…CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all
    teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of
    vaccination status;” and
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): “All students older than 2 years
    and all school staff should wear face masks at school (unless medical or
    developmental conditions prohibit use).”

Our plan for returning to full-time, in-person instruction in both of our buildings on Sept. 2, 2021, will include the following protocols:

  • Bus Travel
  • Masks will be worn on buses by both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff.
  • Safety Protocols
  • The 3-foot social distancing guidance will be followed whenever practicable;
    however, small group instruction and students working together in groups for 15 minute increments will be allowed.
  • All other safety protocols (frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high touch
    surfaces, etc.) will continue as currently in place.
  • Outside on School Property
  • Masks are not required to be worn outside while on school property by either
    vaccinated or unvaccinated students and staff.
  • As per NYSED guidance, wearing a mask at all times is encouraged and is always an option.
  •  Inside School Buildings
  • Masks will be worn by vaccinated and unvaccinated staff and students inside of all district buildings.
  • Mask “breaks” can be taken as needed once seated in a classroom cohort and
    when properly distanced.
  • Masks may be removed for short periods while in grouped or cohort settings
    (eating, snacking, etc.).
  • Sports
  • Masks will be worn for indoor sports—including players, coaches, site personnel, officials and spectators.
  • Masks are not required for outdoor sports or for spectators. However, as per
    NYSED guidance, wearing a mask at all times is encouraged and is always an
  • In the event of an exposure, isolation and quarantine protocols will be
    determined by health officials and will be followed.
  • Remote Instruction
  • The District will not be providing a remote option for students for the 2021–22 school year. If a student has an extreme medical diagnosis that would keep them from in-person instruction, our nurses will work with the family to determine possible next steps.
  • It is our hope that there will not be a large-scale shutdown this year, however, we are prepared to pivot to remote instruction in the event that a public health
    emergency is called and schools are closed.

The effectiveness of these protocols will be reviewed periodically; adjustments will be made based on the data available and the current circumstances in our

The return to full-time everyday instruction for all students includes a return to our previous full-day schedule:

  • Golden Hill Elementary School: student arrival between 8:30  and 8:45 a.m., in their classrooms by 8:45 a.m.; dismissal beginning at 3 p.m. Information regarding arrival and dismissal procedures will be coming directly from Principal Deborah Lisack in the coming days.
  • S. S. Seward Institute: student arrival between 7:30 and 7:44 a.m., in their
    classrooms by 7:45 a.m.; dismissal will begin at 2:20 p.m. Information regarding arrival and dismissal procedures will be coming directly from Principal Susan Moore in the coming days.
  • Students will not be permitted to use hall lockers or locker rooms to change for physical education until countywide transmission rates decrease.
  •  In-person afterschool activities will take place. Students and staff must follow mask and social distancing protocols.
  • School buildings will not be open to visitors or outside groups until countywide
    transmission rates decrease. Until further notice, parents/guardians should schedule an appointment prior to visiting school facilities.

We are all striving to safely navigate the pandemic and support individual health needs. Should your child have a specific medical condition that affects his/her ability to adhere to the CDC guidelines, please contact your school nurse, Marlene Lysack at Golden Hill (845) 651-3095, ext. 20030 and Eileen Smyth at S.S. Seward (845) 651-3095, ext. 30102. Decisions will be made on a
case-by-case basis to ensure student needs are being met.

It continues to be our #1 priority to have all of our children in school safely, in-person, every day. We appreciate the tremendous support you have given us throughout the pandemic and look forward to working closely with our entire Florida Community as we progress closer and closer to true normalcy.


Larry J. Leaven