Here at Pocantico Hills

Re-Opening Plan

Dear Team POCO Families-

We hope that this outreach finds you well and enjoying a restful and restorative summer spent with family and friends!  Lots has been going on here at POCO in anticipation of the 2021-2022 school year and we wanted to take this opportunity to provide you some updates.  We will be sending out our “Welcome Back to School Packet” next week. 

Re-Opening Plan:

We are all aware that this pandemic is far from being over and that it is vital that we do not relax when it comes to the safety of our students, staff and community! While I do expect some guidance from the state, we are not waiting for it to arrive!

While districts across the country and state continue to struggle to formulate a plan for the safe return of their students and staff members, this is not the case when talking about Pocantico Hills. Last year, we were able to achieve something that few districts were able to emulate: a school that was safe and open from day 1!  We were able to achieve this because of the support of our community and commitment of our staff!  Additionally, this was accomplished by not cutting corners and by focusing on safety as our number one priority. There was not an aspect of wellness that we did not address; from air control, ventilation, social distancing, tents and cleaning protocols to the utilization of PPE (masks, etc.) and everything in between; if it could help to keep us safe we did it. So, when looking at this year, the approach that is being taken is one of: “don’t recreate the wheel”. We have tried and true procedures in place that served us well, lets keep them going with any need changes based upon regulations, science and common sense.

At a meeting of the Re-opening safety committee last week we agreed to the over-arching philosophy outlined above and to adhere to the proven guidelines provided by NYSED, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics

Specifically:

  • All students and staff will remain masked while indoors. Please note, this is regardless of vaccination status
    • Requests for medical exemptions, based upon documented health conditions, will be reviewed by our school physician and acted upon, on a case by case basis
    • Staff may remove masks if alone in rooms
  • Masks on school buses
  • Students/staff may remove masks while outside
    • Tents are up for outdoor classroom use
  • Masks and PPE provided and available on a daily basis
  • Classroom distancing of at least 3 feet as per CDC guidelines (like last year, classrooms were mapped by our architects)
    • No barriers will be utilized in classrooms
  • Lunch distancing will remain at 6 ft.
    • 2 students per table
    • Barriers will remain at the lunch room tables
  • Ventilation and air control is even further enhanced. New Merv-13 filters have been installed in all air handlers (they are changed every 3 months on a minimum), stand-alone HEPA filters in classrooms and hallways. Additionally, all air handlers have had new controls installed; this allows us to maximize their capability and remotely monitor to ensure efficiency
  • All deep cleaning protocols are in place
    • Misting sprayers
    • UVC disinfection
    • Proven/approved/safe cleaning products
    • Enhanced cleaning regiment
  • Closed campus to start (will be reviewed again at the start of November)
    • Only essential outside personnel and visitation (authorized by Adam, Mike or I)
    • Utilize tech for parent/teacher meetings. We showed how effective this was and is in helping to further effective communication!
  • Weekly 20% surveillance testing conducted through the county
    • Initial testing of all students/staff for baseline
    • PCR saliva based
  • Mental health and wellness support available to students, families and staff!
  • Field trips allowed if contained event for POCO kids…like the Swan Lake walk…we are doing it!!!! (Thank you Foundation😊)
  • Quarantine and other protocols as indicated by CDC…there have been changes that will be illustrated and communicated
  • Cohort based activities allowed
  • Common sense a must

Instructional Model:

We are supporting an in-person instructional model. We clearly understand that there may be times when remote instruction is a necessity and we are prepared to shift to this model if/when necessary. Some examples of “going remote,” include: 

  • Quarantine as a result of exposure or illness
    • CDC rules on this have been modified and will be shared
  • Medically documented and supported reasons
    • All requests will be reviewed and authorized by our school physician
  • School wide closure
    • Deep cleaning
    • Back tracing
    • District determination

I am so excited for this school year and appreciative of all of your support, contributions and commitment to all things POCO.  GO Hawks!

With great respect,

Rich

COVID Screening Testing Program

To: Parents/Guardians, Teachers, and Staff of Pocantico Hills            

Date:  September 17, 2021

From: Richard N. Calkins – Superintendent, Pocantico Hills Central School District

Dear Pocantico Educational Community, 

The start of the school year is upon us! As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, Westchester County and its schools are committed to a safe return to in-person learning for students, teachers, and staff.

This can only be achieved if the County, public and private school systems, parents, and students work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools and keep one another safe. This is especially important given the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant.

As part of this effort, Pocantico is pleased to announce that we, along with schools across Westchester County, will be partnering with Westchester County Department of Health’s testing partner Mirimus, Inc., to offer the County’s FREE COVID-19 screening testing program.

The program relies on two testing strategies:

  • Initial testing: Voluntary testing of all students, teachers, and staff
  • Thereafter: Voluntary weekly testing of 20% of all students, teachers, and staff

This method will allow early detection of COVID-19 in pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic individuals. Early detection means we can better stop the virus from spreading in schools. Preventing school outbreaks is key to ensuring our schools stay open to provide the education and support our children need.

***All unvaccinated staff members will be tested on a weekly basis***

All students, teachers, and staff are highly encouraged to participate in this free, school-based COVID-19 screening testing program. The program will use non-invasive, self-collected saliva samples that are appropriate and painless for all ages. Samples will be processed using accurate and reliable PCR analysis—the gold standard of COIVD-19 testing— to identify positive cases.

Please read and complete the attached consent and authorization forms (click here to fill out the forms electronically) for each student in your household (or for yourself, if you are teacher/staff). In order to participate, we encourage you to consent as soon as possible as we would like to begin this testing process very soon. You can consent at any point for enrollment in the weekly 20% screening testing program. Once you consent, Pocantico will be in touch with more details regarding the testing program. Please know that no confidential information is shared with any outside parties.

Thank you!

Richard N. Calkins

Message from the Superintendent - Last Pool Weekend

September 22, 2021

Dear Community-

It is with a heavy heart that I have to remind everyone that this is our last pool weekend.  It has been a super pool season and we are very grateful to our lifeguards for keeping us safe, and to Don and his team for keeping the pool open.  Please enjoy a last swim and we will see you all in the spring!

My best regards,

Rich

Activities Calendar (Click icon for full view)

  • DAY 6 -- C(3)

    Pocantico Hills Central School
  • DAY 1 --- D(4)

    Pocantico Hills Central School
  • Back to School Night - Middle School (Virtual)

    Pocantico Hills Central School
  • DAY 2 --- A(1)

    Pocantico Hills Central School
  • Back to School Night - Elementary (Virtual)

    Pocantico Hills Central School
  • DAY 3 --- B(2)

    Pocantico Hills Central School
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