High school to return to hybrid learning Thursday after school-provided testing; K-8 to return to hybrid Monday

High school to return to hybrid learning Thursday after school-provided testing; K-8 to return to hybrid Monday

Pelham public schools will be opening with the hybrid learning plan on Monday at the elementary and middle school levels, and high school students will continue to learning remotely through Wednesday. High school students are scheduled to then transition to the hybrid system on Thursday, with cohort B students attending school in-person. High school students will follow the hybrid bell schedule during their remote classes Monday-Wednesday.

All high school students will be required to produce evidence of a negative Covid test in order to attend in-person instruction. The test must have taken place on or after September 14. The high school will be providing testing for all students on Monday and Tuesday and will be covering all costs not covered by families’ insurance. Students in Cohort B will be tested Monday, and Cohort A will be tested Tuesday. The group providing the testing services, Westchester Medical Center, has a turnaround period of 24-36 hours, so students will have their results back in time for cohort B students to attend in-person instruction on Thursday. Test results will be sent to parents, and only provided to the district if parents sign a release.

The high school administration is currently finalizing details and families can expect more information from Principal Mark Berkowitz this weekend. Students will likely receive a staggered schedule with testing times, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Cheryl Champ.

Students who decide not to get tested are required to complete the 14-day quarantine period and will be allowed to return to school September 24, regardless of whether they attended the parties on Monday and Tuesday which resulted in the district-wide delay of in-person instruction.

“At this point, given again that we don’t have a full scope of who has participated in various events, we know that there were students in all graders at any given point in time. We really feel that sense of responsibility…to staff and students that we have to require everyone to test,” said Champ. “The good part is that this gives us a baseline for all students that we can safely assure all students walking through our doors is not presently, as of the testing, carrying the virus.”

Champ said that the district is in the works of developing a “community compact” which would be signed by all families in the district outlining public health responsibilities that all families must commit to. These guidelines would include a required 14-day quarantine period adhered to by any family members who attend gatherings in violation of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s set limits or travel to one of the restricted states.

Board President Jessica DeDomenico enforced the idea that, “(quarantining) may feel like a consequence to certain people but I don’t want to be in the business of (the board) enforcing people’s behavior, but more just be aware of how certain behaviors may impact our ability to operate as a school.”

If a student tests positive the family will be in contact with the Department of Health, and contact tracing will begin. The district will be notified and involved only if the DOH deems it necessary.

Champ added that the elementary schools are still looking for volunteers to act as lunch monitors for one hour per day. The volunteers can be parents or college students who are home, added Trustee Eileen Miller, and they can get paid if they go through the necessary fingerprinting in assistant superintendent for business James Hricay’s office.