In response to concerns after extending remote learning for an additional week after the winter holidays, the Orange School System set up a COVID-19 tracker for families to be aware of the number of students and staff who have either contracted COVID or who has come close to someone who has.
As Superintendent Vince Scarpetti explained, the district has planned for one remote learning week after the new year. At the end of that week, there was an increase in the number of positive cases, not only in the Town of Orange, but specifically with children who attend the elementary school. The district opted to extend remote learning an additional week and students returned to the classroom on January 19. “I thank the parents who reached out about the additional week and because of this communication,” Scarpetti said. In response, the district created the dashboard to make clear to parents how many cases are affecting Orange elementary school families.
The dashboard – a Google Doc – is categorized by school and is shared with parents in weekly newsletters and on the district’s website. The information is updated on the Doc each Friday by the district’s director of nursing.
“One thing to note: this information is based on what is told to us by parents and staff. Sometimes there is different data that goes to the health department because of information that they receive versus what we receive. So, we ask our parents and staff to communicate as much as they can with regards to the well-being of their families,” Scarpetti said, adding that some parents were concerned about communicating decisions with regard to remote and in-person learning in order to allow time for them to make arrangements for childcare, especially during remote learning.
“As shared in past communications, parents, students and staff need to be ready to transition with short notice. That being said, we understand the challenges that parents and staff face in order to quickly prepare for remote learning,” he said, adding, “More times than not, decisions have gone out Friday afternoon when information is shared regarding positive COVID cases for that week. We realize that can be frustrating to both, our parents and our staff.”
Each Thursday evening, the state shares the positivity rates on its website. Every Friday morning, the BOWA superintendents and health directors have a standing meeting to discuss not only what is on the state website, but also what is occurring in each specific district.
“I apologize for any inconvenience this poses to our students and staff, though with the intention of having our students in school while keeping safety in mind for all, these decisions are not made lightly and we want the most recent data in order to make an informed decision,” he said.
Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent