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Update from Clarence CSD August 13, 2021

Dear Clarence School Family,

First and foremost, let me say how excited we are to welcome students back to school this September. We continue to plan for a full return for all students, five days per week, and we are anticipating that school will look much more normal than it has over the past year and a half.

With that being said, I have spoken with many parents who are anxious to learn about the safety protocols that will be in place when students return in the fall. Although we are still waiting for a bit more guidance from health experts before finalizing details, I wanted to pass along several updates related to reopening.

Guidance from the State Education Department (SED)

On Thursday, SED released a document titled, “Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year.” As expected, the guide is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics, and it gives schools a range of strategies to help keep students and staff safe.

It is unclear, however, if the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) will be issuing its own set of recommendations, or if the New York State Department of Health (NYDOH) will reconsider providing guidance once Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul takes office. As soon as we know for sure which set of protocols we will be required to follow, we will pass along specific information regarding the start of school.

Masks in Schools

Over the past week, I have had a number of parents and grandparents reach out to express their views on wearing masks in school. The calls and emails have been thoughtful and respectful in nature, and I have tried to respond as quickly as possible. I would, however, offer three observations for consideration.

First, it is clear that we are all committed to the same thing—having a successful school year. There may be disagreements about which protocols are most appropriate, but each person in our community recognizes that we have a moral imperative to keep kids safe.  Second, we know that it will be impossible to meet the safety preferences of everyone when it comes to our reopening plan. We hope, however, that members of our school family recognize we are making the safest decisions possible, and that we stand willing to adjust when it looks like alternative paths might be more appropriate. Finally, it is important that we acknowledge our limitations as an educational institution. When it comes to decisions concerning public health, it is critical that we trust the expertise of our partners at both the state and local levels.  

Open Houses

Over the summer, we adjusted the dates for our Open Houses in September. In the coming days, you should be receiving a copy of the 2021-2022 District Calendar in the mail, and we ask that you note the dates and times of the important events. We also wanted to share that our Open Houses will be virtual events again this fall in order to avoid large gatherings of people in relatively small instructional spaces. It may be difficult to capture the in-person magic that happens when parents and guardians have the chance to engage with teachers, but we believe the online format makes the most sense at this point in time.

Free Meals Extended

As you may know, the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended a program providing all interested students with free meals in school. If your child or children are interested, they will have access to breakfast and lunch during the 2021-2022 school year that will be free of charge.

Finally, for regular updates, we will be sending out weekly communications each Friday from now through the end of the summer. We do not want to overwhelm email inboxes while families are trying to enjoy the last couple weeks of August, but we want to make sure parents have clear information as quickly as possible.

Hoping this finds you safe, healthy, and well.

Matt Frahm, Ed.D.