November 6, 2020

Dear Hastings Families,

While the pandemic consumes most of our energy, focus, and attention, it is also important to note the terrific work occurring in our classrooms across the District. The work our professionals are doing in service to student learning is commendable. Nowhere was this more evident in this week’s Our Schools webinar on Wednesday evening. 

Preparing children for an ever-changing world 
Administrators identified examples of how educators are preparing children for success in our ever-changing world, which has been personified by this pandemic. Last year, we started discussions about the connection between what children experience and learn in our schools and how this reflects the expectations of future learning, life, and work. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, perseverance, resilience, and adaptability, which are among the list of academic and social-emotional skills necessary for success in future learning, life, and work. To get a glimpse of how our professionals support these skills, please review the presentation and/or watch the recorded webinar. The next presentation will be pre-recorded and shared with the community. 

Invitation to join a book study
As we prepare to revisit our conversations started last year, which were anchored in the book studies referenced above, we continue to ponder ideas to help us imagine what the future holds for children and the implications for our schools. I invite you to join a book study on 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. The information for joining the book study offered through Zoom is here.

Completing the daily COVID health questionnaire
This morning, a message sent to families as a reminder to complete the COVID health questionnaire contained an error. The error was corrected and a test message was sent at 11:30 am to show families what to expect on Monday. This change was necessary because some health questionnaires were being completed with abbreviated names or nicknames of children rather than the official name listed in our student management system. When shortened names are used, the questionnaire is not completed and the child’s name appears on the non-responder report reviewed by the Assistant Principals and the Nurses. This new message sent from the K12 Alerts system will remind families to use the spelling of your child’s name as it appears in the body of the letter. 

Welcome to Jason Platzner
I am pleased to introduce Jason Platzner, our public relations and communications specialist, who started on Wednesday. Jason replaces Jeanine Genauer who had served in this role. Jason has a B.A. in Journalism and History from SUNY Purchase College. He honed his public relations and communications skills while working for News 12 Westchester, The Guidance Center, Burke Rehabilitation, and the Governor’s Office of Storm Management. While he’ll capture stories that celebrate our schools and keep you informed about what is happening in the District, if you learn of something we may have missed, please complete this form

Positive COVID cases and our schools
Some members of the community are dealing with positive COVID cases. Thank you for the compassion and empathy you have shown them. We continue to follow the procedures in our School Reopening Plan, which includes consulting with the local health department and our Medical Director when we learn a child or their parent has tested positive. While a parent or another adult in the home may test positive for COVID, this alone will not necessarily cause the school to shift to remote learning. Each case is different and decisions are made in consultation with medical professionals at the health department and our Medical Director. What has been the most challenging so far is the ability to open a school when multiple faculty and staff members have been quarantined. Our school principals and assistant principals are doing all they can to open safely when faculty and staff are quarantined by the health department.

Gearing up for the holidays and travel
The holiday breaks are near and families are planning celebrations. Please plan safely so when we return to school, we do not have to go into remote learning or worse, not open. The Governor’s travel advisory has been updated and now includes a test-out option. 

We know many of you are facing daunting challenges and we appreciate your understanding, cooperation, and assistance as we safely prepare for the weeks ahead.

Thank you and have a safe weekend.


Valerie Henning-Piedmonte, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools