Orange school administrators voiced high accolades for teachers, staff, students, and the greater community at its monthly board of education meeting on September 21, as the fourth full week of school was about to begin. “I am happy to report that we have begun our fourth week of school. We have been reflecting on where we have done well and where we need to do better,” Superintendent of Schools Vince Scarpetti says.
“What started in the summer extended to the whole community. I can’t thank our parents enough for their patience, especially during drop-off and pickup during these first few weeks. That needed everyone’s patience,” he jokes.
He thanked the Orange Congregational Church for working with the kindergarten for parking, the department of public works for helping with limbs and trees down after the tropical storm, as well as for getting fields prepared for outdoor play. He thanked the boards of education, selectmen, and finance department and our first selectman, all for being prepared without knowing a pandemic was coming.
“We had the Chrome Books to be prepared. And I can’t imagine what Race Brook School would have looked like if we had to do this drop-off and pickup in the old parking lot!” he says. Scarpetti says it has been a true community effort. “We want to remind our parents and our staff about our honesty – we ask students and faculty to please stay home if you are not feeling well. It’s an honor system that we have to go by, to build on our success of thus far,” he says.
Between 10-10.5% of students are learning remotely, with the other 90% in classrooms. “We started at around 12-13%, so we have seen more students return back,” Scarpetti says.
Director of Facilities Mike Gray echoed Scarpetti’s sentiments.n “Heading into the fourth week, it makes me really proud to have the privilege of being able to serve the community of Orange and to see the dedication day in and day out of all of the staff – the kitchen staff, custodial staff, teachers, paraprofessionals.”
He says that walking through the buildings on a daily basis, the children are doing an amazing job. “They really want to be in school and they’re doing everything they can to stay in school. They are washing their hands all of the time; they are wearing their masks and they’re following directions. It’s evident that parents practiced this summer,” he says.
During her presentation to the board, Curriculum Director Evelyn Russo also shared thanks. “I would also like to thank our teachers for their passion, flexibility, and hard work in supporting our students, remote and in person. I’d also like to thank our students, who continue to be enthusiastic with all of the mitigating strategies in place. It’s been a pleasure to interact with so many of them and hear them share that they are happy to be back in school.”
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent