Dear Valued Staff Member,
We hope that you and your families are well and safe. As you are aware, in March, we were all thrust into uncertain times, as the Covid-19 virus spread rapidly throughout New York. With no warning and very little information available, BCCS administrators and staff worked tirelessly around the clock to develop and implement a Remote Learning Plan to deliver IEP mandated services to BCCS students and to ensure continuity of learning during the emergency school closure. As a result, BCCS programs have been able to coordinate with each family and design a specific Remote Learning Plan based on the needs of each student. This has been accomplished by offering parents and students a variety of learning tools including live classroom and tele therapy sessions through ZOOM, Face time, Class DOJO, Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams. In some instances and when requested by parents, services have been delivered via telephone and or e-mail. We recognize the tremendous effort on the part of all staff to perfect remote learning initiatives and adapt to this new world, and appreciate your commitment to the organization.
As the end of the school year approaches, we all wondered what school would be like this coming summer and fall. On May 21st, the Governor announced that NYS schools would remain closed for the summer session and as BCCS immediately started to work on developing the summer session remote learning plans and preparing for a tentative September re-opening, an executive order was issued on June 4th, stating that special education services and instruction may be provided in- person for the summer term in school districts. This Executive order was given with short notice, only 3 weeks to the start of the summer session and created massive confusion for programs and families throughout the state. Once again we immediately contacted our regulatory agencies and school districts for further clarification and guidance to address many obstacles and constraints including availability of transportation, significantly lower number of people permitted in the buildings, class size constraints, PPE acquisition, training, entry screening procedures, increased cleaning and disinfecting requirements, social distancing measures, isolation rooms for potential positive cases and protocols for communication and notification of new positive cases in schools. Unfortunately, we have not yet received any clear guidance on these matters.
We acknowledge the importance and need for in-person special education services. However, with only 3 weeks before the start of summer session, so many regulatory requirements that have to be met and lack of clear guidance from regulatory bodies, we do not yet have any assurance that a center- based model of service delivery is a safe and feasible option at this time. As we await the necessary coordination of the guidance from the New York State Education Department (NYSED), the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), we continue to work on our reopening plan and considering all of our options.
As always, the health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority and we will continue to do our best to safely open our doors. We appreciate your patience as we await the necessary guidance from the regulatory agencies listed above. We will keep you informed as our decision is finalized.
Thank you for your partnership and patience.
Stanfort Perry, Executive Director