Superintendent Champ delays in-person school re-opening to Monday due to ‘woods’ partying


In an email sent to students, parents and staff, Pelham Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ said all in-person instruction in the Pelham Union Free School District will be delayed to Monday due to a large number of high school students attending parties at a local golf course. The first days of school on Thursday and Friday will be held online.

This email comes following at least two nights of large gatherings of Pelham Memorial High School students at “the woods,” the nickname given to Split Rock Golf Course in the Bronx, where drinking parties have been held for years. In the email, Champ said the parties were the cause of the delay of in-person instruction. Those who attended the gatherings have been asked by the school administration to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days.

“Video from these parties shows students engaging in risky behavior, failing to practice physical distancing and not wearing masks or face coverings,” Champ said in the email. “Needless to say, this is extremely disappointing at any time, but for students to (attend parties) just days before our schools were set to reopen potentially puts our whole school community at risk.”

Champ said the gatherings totalled as many as 100 teens. She said the decision to delay in-person instruction came after discussion with the Westchester County Department of Health over these gatherings.

Champ’s statement was made hours after an announcement by the Pelham Teachers’ Association that members will be wearing Red for Ed in protest of PUFSD’s hybrid reopening model on the first day of school. (Later, the union said it will run the protest on Thursday and Monday.)

“Over the next few days, we will continue to coordinate with the Department of Health to monitor the Covid-19 situation in Pelham” and “to assess the situation to determine next steps,” Champ said. “As we do so, it is incumbent upon all of us, including our students, families and members of the community to do our part in limiting risky behavior that puts us all in harm’s way.”

The superintendent said virtual instruction will be conducted “with some modifications.” For up-to-date information on this week’s instruction methods, click here for PUFSD’s Distance Learning Plan.