April 2, 2020
Dear Valley Stream Families and Staff,
As we continue to watch the news, it is clear that this pandemic will become worse before we start to see positive change. The District is concerned about everyone's health and encourages everyone to practice social distancing and follow the CDC and Department of Health guidelines on Covid-19.
Phase II of our continuity of instruction plan was implemented this week. Included in the plan was a day of professional development for our staff focused on distance learning and digital resources. I thank everyone involved in the planning, facilitation and participation which yielded a very informative and productive day remotely.
As of last week, the governor’s Executive Order extended statewide school closures until April 15th and has raised questions about whether it is necessary for districts to forego scheduled spring breaks in order to receive full benefit from the waiver of 180-day requirements and avoid losses of state aid.
As you may be aware, school districts have received guidance from the New York State Education Department that all districts will be required to maintain continuity of instruction, student meals, and emergency childcare services throughout the extended closure period, including during scheduled breaks.
A variety of professional associations are continuing discussions on this issue with the governor’s office. As you can imagine, there are a variety of labor, contractual and religious concerns with the Executive Order, as well as student, staff, parent and community morale concerns. The governor is fully apprised of the real-world implications of this Executive Order.
In this vein, we have been further advised that school districts cannot lawfully recess for a religious holiday, but it is acceptable for students and staff members to take the day off in accordance with local policies and collective bargaining agreements. Please check the website for activities that will be available through April 17th (in anticipation of further closures).
We are continuing to adjust our budget based on the anticipated decrease in state aid now and possibly during the next school year. Revised plans will be presented to the Board of Education and community. Changes in future Board of Education meetings will be communicated and meetings will continue to be done remotely.
Our District newsletter should be arriving shortly via mail. I hope you enjoy this edition, which features the voices of our community.
Thank you all for your understanding, input and patience as we adapted to this unprecedented situation.
Stay safe and be well.
Nicholas A. Stirling, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools