Board of Education provides health guidance, details on Covid dashboard


The Pelham Board of Education provided a number of updates on health information for district families at its Wednesday meeting.

In her report, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ said that children with runny noses should stay at home for a day with a parent monitoring their symptoms, even if they think they just have a cold or allergies. Siblings can still go to school if they are asymptomatic. Families should contact their doctor if signs of sickness persist.

Champ explained that the two positive Covid cases resulting from testing at the high school were not added to the district Covid-tracking dashboard since the students who tested positive had not yet been in the schools. Champ added that the dashboard is “not 100% accurate because it’s only what we’re aware of that happens at school.”

Champ thanked families for complying with the health screening guidelines, adding that a mobile app is now available as an alternative to the paper form for secondary students.

President Jessica DeDomenico shared that the first 10 days of hybrid learning have been a success so far, and asked families to continue to be patient as some aspects continue to get worked out. 

“While we have heard frustrations from some parents that our plan is not yet working, I ask for their patience,” said DeDomenico. “While I know that all of our patience has been tested a great deal over the last six months, and we’ve all been here eagerly awaiting the return to school of our children, teaching effectively in this model does not happen overnight. Our year’s success hinges on flexibility and open minds, ongoing feedback and a humble willingness to adapt and adjust as needed.”

Parents and staff can expect a survey on the success of the hybrid model after the district completes a few weeks of hybrid instruction.

Trustee Eileen Miller shared that she attended a round table for the board of presidents where many districts shared how they have been approaching the return to schools. Miller said that “Everyone is either currently hybrid or currently virtual expecting to go hybrid at some point…it was fascinating to hard what everybody was saying, and also very comforting to know that nobody had really figured it out and gotten it all right.”

James Hricay, assistant superintendent for business, asked high school parents in his report to be sure to respond to communications regarding their insurance in relation to the high school’s testing last week. Hricay underlined the point that parents will not be billed for this testing cost as the district will be taking on all costs not covered by families’ insurance. He urged parents to provide their insurance information if they haven’t already in order to minimize the cost for the district.

Champ said that the district is working to find more substitute teachers, including two permanent substitutes per school. She noted that finding substitutes in this climate is especially difficult as many substitute teachers are retired-aged individuals and are therefore less inclined to work during the pandemic.

Steven Garcia, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and personnel, announced that the district has appointed new high school Latin and science teachers, filling positions which had been previously vacated.

Hricay said that all ventilation in the district has been brought up to code, in compliance with Covid guidelines, and added that many district construction projects are moving quickly, including the work on the high school/middle school annex, which is projected to finish by the end of the month. He added that while the state has said that they will not be reducing aid by 20% as they previously claimed, his team is still working under the assumption of a 20% reduction.

The board has finalized the district goals and committees for the year and DeDomenico said that community members will be sent information on the application process for committees by October 8.

The board’s next meeting is October 7 at 8:15 p.m. and can be viewed on YouTube Live.