Coronavirus Precautions

Update as of May 5, 2020

As you are all aware, Governor Andrew Cuomo made the announcement Friday that all schools in New York State would remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. This announcement was another reminder of the harsh reality in which we all currently live. As an educator and equally important as a parent, I am saddened by the significant effects that this will have on the lives of our children.  But communities have and will continue to band together to support one another to make the best out of very difficult circumstances, just as Mount Pleasant has done in a great show of unity and strength!

Over the next few days, I will work with Mrs. Anne Stern, Mr. Michael Cunzio, and Mr. Anthony Mungioli to release plans for the second, fifth, and eighth grade moving up ceremonies.  These ceremonies will all occur virtually and we as a district want to do everything that we can to ensure that the experience is as positive as they can be for all of our children and their families.  These ceremonies will be as inclusive as possible, ensuring that we are able to offer much praise for our children for all of their accomplishments and hard work in each of their buildings.

Perhaps the greatest challenge that lies ahead will be our Westlake High School graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.  Within the last two weeks, I was able to meet virtually with more than one hundred of our Seniors, Mr. Schenker, Mr. Amann and their Class Advisors.  When asked the question regarding their graduation ceremony being held virtually on the scheduled date in June or trying to wait into the summer to have a ceremony in person at the school, the unanimous voice of the Senior Class attendees at this meeting was to wait as long as possible, but for no Senior to be excluded. Obviously, we will need to work closely with our families and the guidance staff if this is the option that we select to have a definitive date by which the ceremony must be held. I would like to honor the voice of the class and I will work closely with Mr. Schenker In the coming days to ensure that we make every effort to plan a meaningful and celebratory graduation.  Similarly, we will also work together to release additional plans to celebrate our Seniors.  Our Guidance staff has been regularly communicating regarding college decisions and the Athletics Department has been publishing Senior Spotlights.  We will continue to do everything we can to celebrate all of their accomplishments.

Also late on Friday, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.26 which updated a path forward regarding the annual budget vote and election for our two vacant Board of Education seats.  As per the Executive Order, the vote is to occur on June 9, 2020 by absentee ballot only. There will be no open polling places on our campuses.  By this Executive Order, the district is to mail absentee ballots to eligible voters with a postage paid envelope to allow for voters to return their ballots to the district to cast vote.  All ballots must be returned to the district clerk no later than June 9, 2020 by 5:00p.m.  We will continue to communicate on the voting process and post all of this and additional information regarding the budget and Board of Education election on the website.  If you are not yet registered to vote and are interested in doing so, you can use the Department of Motor Vehicle online registration access at https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/electronic-voter-registration-application .

Districts are also still awaiting guidance in relation to calendar issues for the end of the year.  As you remember, school districts were directed to continue virtual instruction through the Spring Recess.  We are awaiting clarification from the Governor's Office on the required number of school days for the year and at what date we may be able to conclude online instruction for the year. As soon as we receive any update, I will be certain to share it as soon as possible.

I hope that all of our families continue to be well. Please continue to reach out to our buildings for support and to any of us for information or assistance.

Respectfully-

Dr. Kurtis Kotes

Update as of April 17, 2020

Good Friday Morning Mount Pleasant:

Last night, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.18 which extended the period of school closure through May 15, 2020. There are no other new conditions in Executive Order 202.18 that did not exist in previous Executive Orders for school districts (i.e- alternative instruction options, distribution and availability of meals, and child care with an emphasis on serving children of essential workers).  As I stated in my previous communications, it appears that Governor Cuomo will stay consistent with evaluating school closures in two week increments. 

Our district will continue to implement our Continuity of Learning Plan which was updated this past week.  Please continue to reach out to teachers and principals for direct assistance. They are ready and willing to help you, your children and your families to the best of their abilities. It is our goal as a school district to continue to support and educate children in this temporary reality.  Our school nutrition program also continues to serve from 9am - 11am at the Westlake Campus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Please also take note that under Executive Order 202.13, Governor Cuomo also delayed voting on our annual budget and for vacant Board of Education seats. The Executive Order states that voting will not take place before June 1, 2020.  I am working closely with the Director of Business Administration, Mr. Andrew Lennon, to monitor any updates from the state and county before making a final recommendation to the Board of Education on a budget adoption to present to the community for consideration.  As soon as we have any updated information on voting, we will share it with the community as soon as possible. Please monitor our website for updates as well. 

Finally, I want to take a moment to personally thank our first responders and healthcare workers. Our society is deeply indebted to all those who serve in these roles in any capacity during this incredibly challenging time.  Please know how truly grateful we are for all you do to care for those who are ill right now, while so much is personally on the line for you and your own families at the same time. Please know that we stay hopeful and positive for your health and safety as well. Thank you for all you do!

Continue to stay #wildcatstrong Mount Pleasant!

Respectfully-

 

Dr. Kurtis Kotes

Superintendent of Schools

Update as of April 7, 2020

Good Afternoon Mount Pleasant:

As many of are already aware, yesterday, Governor Cuomo extended the period of school closure in New York State through April 29, 2020. At or before that time, the Governor will make a decision on whether or not the closure will be extended.  Today, the Governor's office released the language of Executive Order 202.14 which codified this extension. It was important that I wait for the release of this order to ensure that there were no additional requirements for schools that would be important for me to share with the community.  At this time, it does not appear that there are any new requirements in Executive Order 202.14 for public schools. The Mount Pleasant Central School District will remain closed during this time period in compliance with the Governor's Executive Order.

The New York State Board of Regents also held a remote virtual meeting yesterday as well. During this meeting, Chancellor Betty Rosa announced that the state would be cancelling the June 2020 administration of all Regents Exams in the state. Today, Interim State Education Commissioner, Shannon Tahoe, sent a memo to Superintendents explaining the decision.  The correspondence explained options for students and school districts on how to address course completion and graduation.  Our Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Administrative Services, Dr. Adam Bronstein and Principals Mr. Keith Schenker and Mr. Anthony Mungioli and I will be meeting virtually tomorrow to decipher this guidance memo and we will collaborate on how to share this information as clearly and quickly as possible with the community. Please watch for additional communications on this issue. 

As the period of school closure is now extended, we are also preparing to release an updated version of our Continuity of Learning Plan as was discussed during our last Board of Education Meeting. Teachers and administrators have been working to prepare for this update ensuring that we provide clear information for our students and families. Dr. Bronstein, Mrs. Holtz and I will be posting and emailing a video explaining the updates and the new document will be posted on the website before the end of this week. The changes and updates will be implemented as of Monday April 13, 2020. 

Continue to work hard Mount Pleasant students and remain, Wildcat Strong!

Dr. Kotes

 

Update as of March 31, 2020

Good Afternoon Mt. Pleasant Families:

I hope that all of our families are continuing to manage the difficult days of being restricted to our homes. Our staff remains committed to doing our best to help our families navigate these challenges to the best of our abilities. 

On Friday, I sent a correspondence stating that the district would be able to observe the Spring Recess days starting on April 6, 2020 through and including April 13, 2020. Governor Cuomo’s initial executive order 202.4, issued on March 16, 2020, did not give any directive for school districts not to abide by their previously adopted school calendars. The Governor’s executive order issued on this past Friday March 27, 2020 clearly states, “School districts must continue plans for alternative instructional options, distribution and availability of meals, and childcare,  with an emphasis on serving children of essential workers, and continue to first use any vacation or snow days remaining.” A memo was also sent yesterday to Superintendents clarifying this expectation from the New York State Education Department. Therefore, the Mount Pleasant Central School District will not have Spring Recess and online instruction will continue through all of Spring Recess in compliance with this executive order.

It is with full understanding that we are entering into a week where many students, families and employees will be in religious observance for some days. We ask that families please notify the attendance person in each building should your child intend not to participate on a particular day due to religious observance. The attendance contacts are listed in the Continuity of Learning Plan on our district website. 

I want to thank all of our teachers, administrators and support staff for their flexibility and willingness to adapt to these ever changing circumstances. 

We will continue to monitor and adhere to any direction that comes from the Governor’s Office or the State Education Department. I will communicate that information as clearly and as quickly as possible to all of you. 

I continue to extend positive thoughts to our entire community and remain hopeful for a speedy and healthy end to these very difficult days!

Best Regards-

Dr. Kurtis Kotes

Superintendent of Schools

Update as of March 27, 2020

Good Afternoon:

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all public schools in New York State will remain closed through and including April 14, 2020. It is expected that this will be done through his executive order of 202.4 which previously closed schools through March 31, 2020. This is information that we had been waiting for and allows us to plan effectively for the future.

The Mount Pleasant Central School District will be closed through and including April 14, 2020.  Due to the Governor's closure of public schools we will be able to observe our spring recess days. There will be no remote instruction during our spring recess days, April 6, 2020-April 13, 2020. Online instruction will resume April 14, 2020.  It appears that the Governor will be making decisions in regards to public school closures in two week increments.  Our district will continue to reassess our closure in line with information shared from the Governor. 

As of the writing of this email, our Administrators and Directors are working on needed updates to our Continuity of Learning Plan and will also need to collaborate with teachers on these changes. There are many updates that will need to be addressed now that school closure will continue for a longer duration of time. We will be certain to update everyone as soon as possible.

All employees of the Mount Pleasant Central School District remain committed to educating and caring for the students of the community. 

My Best-

Dr. Kurtis Kotes

Superintendent of Schools

Update as of March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020

Good Afternoon:

Earlier today, Governor Cuomo made an announcement closing all public schools in New York State for a period of two weeks. Also, County Executive George Latimer announced a State of Emergency in Westchester County supporting the closure of schools in Westchester for a period of two weeks. Both of these announcements are due to the public health crisis as a result of the Coronavirus.  In accordance with these announcements, the Mount Pleasant Central School District will be closed through and including March 31, 2020.  All district buildings and campuses will be closed during that time period.  Community members are urged to practice social distancing as prescribed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State Department of Health.

REMOTE LEARNING

As a school district, we remain committed to educating the children in our community. While schools are closed, remote learning will begin on Wednesday March 18, 2020. It is important that students stay engaged in their studies and work with their teachers to stay current on the material shared with them from each respective teacher. Tomorrow, the district will be releasing a Continuity of Learning Plan that will provide guidance for expectations during the period of school closure and offer resources for students and families to help guide you through this temporary transition. Also, classroom specific instructions will also be shared by teachers when you access the teacher’s Google Classroom page. Please read all of the instructions so that you clearly understand the expectations during this time period. 

At this time, we are not allowing students to return to the school buildings for any books or materials. Teachers have been asked to make certain that the online instruction that the students receive includes the resources that they need to complete the work.  Teachers are returning to their buildings tomorrow for a short period of time to retrieve necessary materials to begin the remote learning process. It is necessary that we try to restrict access to the buildings for everyone’s health and safety. However, we will closely evaluate this process with our high school students and teachers where there may be a need to establish a staggered schedule for them to retrieve curriculum related  materials from their lockers. We will work together with our high school and continue to communicate with you regarding this issue. 

SCHOOL NUTRITION PROGRAM

Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, MPCSD will be serving “grab-and-go” meals for students who qualify for Free or Reduced Price meals through our School Lunch Program.  Meals will be available for pickup at the Westlake High School Main Lobby between the hours of 9:30 am and 11:00 am, Monday through Friday while schools are closed due to the current state of emergency.  Each eligible student will receive one breakfast and one lunch meal, prepackaged by our Food Service Management Company (FSMC), Chartwells, for consumption at home. A limited number of meals for students with dietary restrictions will be available.  Please contact our Food Service Director, Ms. Jackie Houatchanthara, at Jacqueline.Houatchanthara@compass-usa.com to ensure meals are available if your child has food allergies or other dietary restrictions.  More information will be posted on the district’s food service website (https://www.mtplcsd.org/groups/7866/school_lunch/home) as it becomes available.  

Please note that while schools will be closed, all districts are still awaiting further guidance on the 180 day requirement for school sessions and whether or not the remote learning sessions will be counted towards this mandate.  It is highly likely that the district will be closed beyond March 31, 2020 and I urge families to prepare for such. Also, please note that the district may have to use the days otherwise planned for Spring Recess as regular school days if there is no change in the current regulations. 

Information that school districts are receiving is rapidly changing. In many cases, local Superintendent’s do not receive updates until it is broadcast over the news.  Please know that I will continue to work with the district administration to keep you informed as quickly as possible. I fully understand the stress and hardship this may cause for many of you. The health and safety of our students, families, and community remains our top priority.

Respectfully-

Kurtis Kotes, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

District Closure Plans as of March 14, 2020

March 14, 2020

Dear Students, Families and Community Members of the Mount Pleasant Central School District,

Yesterday, more than 50 superintendents met with New York State Officials, a legislative representative and State Education Department officials to discuss the public health concern that the COVID-19 coronavirus poses to our communities and our schools.  In this meeting, there was a collective concern for the safety of our students, staff, and our respective communities. We believe that some immediate action is necessary.  

The Mount Pleasant Central School District will be using two emergency closure days to close schools on Monday, March 16, 2020 and Tuesday, March 17, 2020.  This school closure will be consistent with the model of social distancing that has been recommended by the CDC and many medical professionals. There are many unanswered questions for school districts at this time; both as they relate to the potential for the spread of COVID-19 within our schools, as well as the logistical implications for schools.  

As a region, it is our expectation that we will obtain further guidance from New York State related to our questions and concerns during this temporary closure.  Based upon the information available on Tuesday, the status of the school closing will be re-evaluated. It is highly likely at that time that I will announce an extension of that closure and I urge families to prepare for such

We understand the challenges and hardships that this decision may pose on our school families.  Please trust that this was not an easy decision for any school district. However, we are at a critical juncture for the greater good of our school community and that of the people of New York.  

Given the significant health concerns, please make note of the following:

  • The Easter Seals Inspire Program is suspended until further notice.

  • The Capital Improvement Vote Scheduled for March 31, 2020 will be postponed. No date for rescheduling has yet been selected.

  • The Board of Education meeting scheduled for March 18, 2020 is postponed.

  • All events including the high school musical, all interscholastic athletic practices and events, and driver’s education classes are postponed/suspended.

  • All district facilities are closed. The community is asked not to access our facilities for any purpose until further notice and practice social distancing.

With the high likelihood that we will be going to an extended closure, we will likely be implementing our remote learning plan beginning on Wednesday March 18, 2020. Please check your emails, for more explicit directions on access and directions. 

We remain committed to sharing any further developments as they are available.  During this critical time our continued partnership and care for one another is essential to successfully navigating this challenge.

Respectfully-

Dr. Kurtis Kotes

 

Letter to Community March 10, 2020

Mount Pleasant Central School District

Prevention & Preparedness Plan – Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

The health and safety of students, staff and community are of paramount importance to the Mount Pleasant Central School District. The district will continue to follow the following measures to ensure that we can operate in a safe and effective manner.

Communication

The Mount Pleasant Central School District is committed to keeping our school community informed with pertinent and relevant information.

  • The Superintendent or his designee will provide updates using the SchoolMessenger system. Please make certain that you are registered to receive communications. Messages will also be posted on the district website for future reference and listed clearly as: Information Regarding the Coronavirus.
  • When necessary, the Superintendent may send text messages and phone calls regarding urgent messages as well.
  • The district will use its social media pages including Facebook and Twitter to share relevant information.
  • All questions will be answered in the order that they are received. Individual questions can be sent to teachers or principals. District questions should be sent to the Superintendent of Schools. 

Ongoing Preventative Measures

Students, faculty and staff are continuing to follow these steps that can help stop the spread of any virus:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue (not your hands), then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

The district will closely collaborate with our nurse coordinator, district physician, and the New York State/Westchester County Health Departments for specific health related guidance and directives.

Facilities

  • Ongoing cleaning of frequently touched surfaces including light switches, door handles, countertops, desktops, and bathroom fixture handles.
  • Ongoing cleaning of lunch tables.
  • Extra cleaning of health offices on a daily basis.
  • Monitoring and replenishing hand soap, hand sanitizers, and paper towels in restrooms and near hand washing sinks.
  • District communication with Food Service Management Company and Transportation regarding ongoing cleaning efforts.

Decision Making Process on School/District Closures

The Mount Pleasant Central School District will follow the safety guidelines in this plan to make every effort to keep all students and staff healthy and safe. If a student or staff member is confirmed to have a case of the coronavirus, the district will:

  • Close for an initial period of twenty-four (24) hours for a deep cleaning and full assessment of the situation as per the guidance of the New York State Health Department.
  • If the district is directed by the New York State Health Department or the New York State Education Department to close for a longer period of time, the district will comply with that directive. 
  • If the district is closed for five (5) continuous days or more, the district will activate its distance learning education plan.

Exclusion of Students/Staff

Westchester County Department of Health will notify the district in the event that any individual is required to be excluded from work/school.

  • The district will follow the instructions provided by the Westchester County Department of Health for exclusion/readmission to any of our schools. The current recommended time period for self-quarantine is fourteen (14) days following the last exposure to the affected individual.
  • It is recommended that you contact your health care provider if symptoms develop while on home quarantine.

Education 

It is the goal of the Mount Pleasant Central School District to safely keep school open. Should the school district close for an extended time period (five continuous days or more), faculty will be expected to work with their students under the following guidelines:

  • All faculty will maintain a Google Classroom account and provide information to families on how to access their class accounts.
  • Daily lessons, assignments, projects, assessments, etc. should be posted no later than 9:00 a.m. each morning, Monday-Friday, as appropriate, during each day of the closure as per the daily school calendar.
  • All faculty should be available between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, as appropriate, to correspond via e-mail with students and families.
  • All families should closely watch for further directions and instructions from classroom teachers that will be shared via the Google Classroom account. 

Any extra-curricular or co-curricular trip that was previously planned will go on as scheduled unless otherwise communicated. Any information regarding cancellations, postponements, or delays will be communicated by the individual staff member or principal responsible for coordinating the trip. 

The Pupil Personnel Office is working closely with our schools and families and making individual decisions for medically fragile students. 

Letter to Community March 3, 2020

March 3, 2020

 

Dear Students, Families and Staff of the Mount Pleasant Central School District Community:

Our school district continues to closely monitor guidance and information regarding best practices to keep our students and staff safe as we prepare for the potential effects of the coronavirus.  

As local reports have shown the virus to be present in other parts of Westchester County, I want to review the steps that the district is taking to protect our students and keep them healthy. It is important that we reinforce information that has been shared with us from the Westchester County Department of Health surrounding ways to best protect ourselves from the spread of any virus.  

Steps from the Westchester County Department of Health for best practices include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue (not your hands), then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Should you want to read further information regarding the coronavirus from the Westchester County Department of Health, it can be accessed at:  https://health.westchestergov.com/2019-novel-coronavirus

As a reminder to all students, handwashing signs will be placed in every bathroom in the district. We will also be asking principals to work with teachers to reinforce the steps listed above in an age appropriate fashion. 

The district has been asked about screening of students who may have recently traveled to infected areas. Only the Westchester County Department of Health has the legal ability to tell school districts that a student can be excluded from attending school.  I have included excerpts from a memo from the New York State Education Department below:

“The local health department will be required to contact schools about restrictions on students and furthermore, local health departments will notify schools when students can return to school.” 

“Absent a school receiving such direction from the local health department, students should not be excluded from school or any school activities based on recent travel.” 

“Pursuant to Education Law § 906(1), [w]henever,… a student in the public schools shows symptoms of any communicable or infectious disease reportable under the public health law that imposes a significant risk of infection of others in the school, he or she shall be excluded from the school and sent home immediately, in a safe and proper conveyance. The director of school health services shall immediately notify a local public health agency of any disease reportable under the public health law.”

The full body of the New York State Education Department memo can be read here: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/documents/FINALJointNYSDOHNYSEDCoronavirus020520.pdf

The district has also been asked about possible school closure due to the virus.  There are no plans to close our school district at this time given the current state of public health. 

One of the most helpful things that I can ask of all of you is to share information with your children regarding best practice to keep healthy including hand washing.  Providing clear and accurate information to your children will help us get through this health issue calmly.  

I am providing to you links of articles that you might want to consider sharing with your children.  Please select what might be age appropriate for your children: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/02/well/family/coronavirus-teenagers-anxiety.html

https://parenting.nytimes.com/childrens-health/coronavirus-kids-talk

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus?

We will continue to closely monitor guidance from the Center for Disease Control, the State Health Department and the Westchester County Department of Health.  We will also stay vigilant in monitoring the health of our students and staff members, the cleaning protocol of our buildings and facilities and communication with our transportation company to ensure the sanitization of our school buses.

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,


Dr. Kurtis Kotes

Superintendent of Schools

 

Letter to Community February 26, 2020

  

Dear Families & Students of the Mount Pleasant Central School District Community:

As you are all most likely aware by now, federal, state, and local governments have been sharing information regarding increasing concerns surrounding the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. Most specifically, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has shared that it, as an agency, is trying to learn more about this virus and ways to keep our citizens safe and healthy.  

As a district team, we have been closely monitoring reports and recommendations from multiple agencies including the Westchester County Department of Health, the New York State Center for School Health, the New York State Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  It is imperative that we operate with current and accurate information and make well informed decisions to protect our students, staff and community. Our school nursing staff has been an invaluable resource in staying informed with the most up to date information and met with me today to share all pertinent information.  Should you have specific clinical questions about the coronavirus, please contact your personal health care providers. 

As per the guidance of the agencies listed in this letter, the district has and will continue to follow the recommendations for precautionary measures during flu season. Our maintenance staff is following all recommended procedures to regularly disinfect our facilities. 

Sources that the district has been consulting include:

Center for Disease Control 2019 nCoV Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

NYS Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Hotline: 1-888-364-3065

NYS Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Website: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus

NYS Department of Health Local Health Departments: https://health.ny.gov/contact/contact_information/

NYS Center for School Health: www.schoolhealthny.com

Westchester County Health Department: https://health.westchestergov.com/2019-novel-coronavirus

We will continue to monitor the information shared by the above health agencies and use accurate information to make informed decisions regarding the health and welfare of our students and our community. We look forward to working together with all of you to get through this challenging issue!

Respectfully-

Dr. Kurtis M. Kotes

Superintendent of Schools