Superintendent’s Community Update, February 12, 2021

Dear Hastings Families, Faculty and Staff,

Next week’s mid-winter recess gives us an opportunity to relax and recharge. Thank you in advance for continuing to adhere to the safety practices that protect all of us. We want everyone to return to our schools after the mid-winter break healthy and virus free.

There are a few additional items to share with you. 

Chinese New Year, February 12th

Chinese New Year is an important and popular holiday in Chinese culture. Although schools will be in session, Chinese New Year has been memorialized on our 2021-22 school calendar. Happy Chinese New Year to all who celebrate this day. 

School Reopening Committee

In the January 29th update, I announced the School Reopening Committee will be reconvening and new members are invited to join. If you are still interested in joining, please sign up here. The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 4th from 4:30 pm-5:30 pm. After we return from the mid-winter break, a meeting link will be shared with those who signed up. Our objective will be to determine a plan for returning all students. The areas critical to reopening include full vaccination of all school personnel, a reliable COVID-19 surveillance testing program, continuation of remote instruction, and updated guidance on social distancing in classrooms when all students return. We need your support and advocacy to ensure financial support from Albany is provided so that we do not need to reduce services and programs or exceed the tax cap to close gaps in our budget. The Lower Hudson Education Coalition, the advocacy arm of The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, established our advocacy agenda which is here. Please continue to use the Voter Voice portal provided by the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association to join this advocacy campaign. 

Travel Safety Reminders

If your plans next week involve travel, please review the New York State Travel Advisory which is here. In addition, this is the CDC’s updated guidance related to vaccinated persons and quarantine requirements. Vaccinated persons with exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine)
  • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
  • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure

Please contact the Westchester County Department of Health at 914-995-2900 or to report unsafe situations that may jeopardize the safety of others. 

Awaiting COVID Test Results

If a member of the household is awaiting results from a COVID test as a result of symptoms of illness or direct exposure to a COVID positive individual, we ask that your child remain home until a negative result has been returned.  The question "Have you been in close contact with a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in the last 14 days?" is embedded in our daily COVID-19 screener questionnaire. A major factor behind many of our school closures has stemmed from students attending school while household members were awaiting COVID test results. From what we have observed, students in the household most often test positive shortly after someone in the household tests positive. We need everyone to take the COVID health questionnaire seriously so that no one comes to school and infects their peers and our faculty and staff.  

Remote Instruction Option

We extended the remote option to hybrid learners until February 26th. When we return from the mid-winter break, we’ll assess the need to extend it beyond this date. Principal Lou Adiepietro and Principal Jennifer Spirelli prepared a survey to determine how to allow students who may want to attend school for five days to do so while hybrid students are learning in the remote model. After they review the feedback from the survey, they will be able to determine what can be done.

Portrait of a Graduate & Strategic Planning

At this Monday’s Board of Education meeting, the Board listened to a presentation by Battelle for Kids, the organization that works with districts across the country to develop a portrait of a graduate and facilitates the implementation of the portrait of a graduate through strategic planning. Over the course of the last few years, the Board has discussed the need for strategic planning. After the presentation, the Board decided to postpone this work until a later date. The February 24, 2021 book study on The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton will be rescheduled and a new date will be shared after the break.  

I hope families enjoy the time together next week. Please be safe and take care.


Valerie Henning-Piedmonte, Ed.D.