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REOPENING PLAN UPDATE - July 31, 2020 Robocall
Click Here to Listen to the Audio File
Hello To My Farmingdale Family,
As announced earlier this week, our reopening plan is now available on the district’s website. I would like to thank our parents, teachers, support staff members, and administrators who have played a part in designing our re-entry plans.
In following the guidance provided by the State Education Department, the district is submitting three plans for review. The first plan provides for a full reopening where all students attend school every day. The second plan provides a hybrid model where students in grades Kindergarten through 7th grade attend school every day, and students in 8th grade through 12th grade attend school every other day. Our third plan for September provides an entirely remote model. Additionally, the district’s plan permits parents to choose an entirely remote option for their child or children in September.
We are awaiting the Governor’s decision on the reopening of school on or before August 7th. This information should more clearly determine which of the district’s plans will be implemented in September.
I would also like to extend an invitation to all of our parents to use the hyperlinks located in the plan document to submit any questions you may have. We have worked hard to ensure that we have met all of the requirements set forth by the State Education Department, the Health Department, and the Center for Disease Control. The focus was to provide live instruction to as many students as possible while ensuring compliance with all relevant Statewide and National agencies. I am sure that even with all of our efforts, many questions will remain unanswered. We will use your questions to continue to keep an ongoing dialogue throughout the remainder of the summer. You can expect answers to your questions before the end of next week.
In the coming days, you will receive correspondence from your child’s building principal inviting you to additional question and answer opportunities so you can better understand how these guidelines will roll out in your child’s school. In order to conform to our district-wide plan, each principal, director and chairperson will be working with staff in the coming weeks to design protocols for this new instructional environment. These more intimate conversations will support you in understanding what the environment will look like and whether or not you will be comfortable sending your child back to school this September.
Finally, in the case that we open with one of our first two plans, we will be asking parents in the coming weeks to decide whether you will be choosing to send your child to school for in-person instruction or if you are choosing our remote instruction option. More information will be provided about our parents’ ability to choose. In the meantime, it would be time well spent to begin to consider the factors that are relevant to your family, and whether in person or remote learning is better suited for your current circumstance.
I thank you in advance for your understanding in this most difficult time and I look forward to continuing to work together as we prepare for our 2020/21 school year.
Link to Fall Reopening Plan - Spanish
Google Q&A Form - Click Here to Submit Your Questions
REOPENING PLAN UPDATE - July 28, 2020 Robocall
Hello to my Farmingdale Family. This is Paul Defendini, Superintendent of Farmingdale Schools.
I know that many of you are anxious about what the school year will look like and how the current pandemic will affect our opening. I’m reaching out to you today to provide an update on our work towards reopening in September. But first, I want to thank everyone who participated in our reopening survey. Your feedback helped us understand the key priorities of the school community.
As you may already be aware, a district-wide task force was formed this past spring to begin the process of developing a flexible, customized and adaptable reopening plan. The task force addressed nine specific focus points. Their charge was to provide insight on some of the more significant challenges we could encounter and to provide recommendations that we could consider in advance of receiving formal guidance documents from the State.
Guidance documents were received from the State Education Department on July 17th, along with guidance from the New York State Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control. This week, our team is finalizing the Farmingdale reopening plan shell using the survey and insight from various committees. I am using the word “shell” with intention as we must still remain fluid as the information we receive is constantly being updated. On Monday, July 27th, the Board of Education reviewed our plan to date, and on Friday, July 31st, this plan will be formally submitted to the State for approval. It will be available on our website for review before the close of business on Friday, July 31st. On a side note, Governor Cuomo is expected to announce his decision whether or not schools will be allowed to reopen by August 7, 2020.
Although our plan is due to the state on July 31, we understand it will be a living document and that it will continually evolve. Parent and staff input is vital to help us obtain a full 360 degree view. In the coming days you will be receiving information on how to participate in building and department level conversations. These conversations will allow us to incorporate the perspectives of parents and to provide administrators and teachers with a significant role in the design of the instructional environment.
Even after that, our work will still not be complete. We are, by our very nature, a learning organization. Certain components of our plan that we implement will work effectively from day one and meet the needs of our population. Other ideas will need to be abandoned to provide room for other thoughtful suggestions. Simply, success this year will, in part, be defined by our ability to cultivate and spread those practices that are working and to abandon and replace those practices that are not working. This is the most thoughtful approach we can conceive when dealing with a highly complex and uncertain situation. This is a first for all of us and will take our collective best effort to meet the needs of our students.
Our main goal is the health, safety and happiness of our students and staff while ensuring that we meet the educational needs of our students.
I encourage you to continue to visit our website for the most recent updates on our school reopening plans, and I will update you again when I have more news to share.
Lastly, I encourage all of you to find some peace in your days. These are complicated times and the reality is our greatest challenges still lie ahead of us. Maybe it is a quiet walk with friends, a board game night with the family or any other activity that gives you time to pause and enjoy some of the simpler pleasures in life. These opportunities may just prove to provide a calming moment to remind us of the wonderful gift it is to be alive. Be well Farmingdale and remember that we will get through this next challenge if we stick together.
July 7, 2020 - INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN A PARENT/GUARDIAN SURVEY
Dear Farmingdale Family,
We crossed the finish line on our school year and we had a successful budget vote! Most importantly, we did it together. I cannot thank you enough for your commitment and your professionalism during the last three months. I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish together and I look forward to tackling the challenges that still lie ahead. With the school year officially over, planning for September is now in full force.
Last month, we created a district-wide Task Force to design an instructional plan for the start of school. Because our parent voice is vital, the Task Force has developed a survey to gather your input. At the end of this letter you will find a link to participate. We ask that you complete it by Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
I think it is vital that we all enter this conversation with the right mindset. I recently read a quote that is relevant to our current reality. It provided me with a framework that makes the unmanageable and impossible seem a little less unmanageable and impossible. The quote is “Do not let perfect be the enemy of good.” There are no perfect plans to re-opening school. In fact, the plan that we ultimately adopt will undeniably be flawed. Our goal is not to achieve perfection but instead to work together in designing the best plan possible for our community here in Farmingdale.
As you know, the current environment is fluid and rapidly changing. It is hard to imagine what next week will look like let alone trying to consider what September will look like. We have not received official guidance from SED and we don’t expect guidance until late summer. It is therefore important that we use this time to build some local understandings so that we are prepared to accept and adjust when guidance is finally released by the state. To assist you with completing the survey, I have included some recent information from the New York State Department of Health that we have used to shape our Extended School Year Program for our 12-month special education students:
Ensure at least six feet of distance between individuals, unless safety or core function of the activity (e.g., instruction) requires a shorter distance.
Ensure acceptable face coverings are worn by all staff whenever they are within six feet of students or other staff.
School districts/schools must provide employees with an acceptable face covering at no cost to the employee and have an adequate supply of coverings in case of replacement.
Employees must wear a face-covering unless they are unable to medically tolerate such covering.
School districts/schools and employees may use alternate PPE (i.e., face shields or coverings that are transparent at or around the mouth).
Encourage, but do not require students to wear acceptable face coverings. Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2, or for anyone who is unable to medically tolerate such covering, including students where such covering would impair their health or mental health, or where such covering would present a challenge, distraction, or obstruction to education services and instruction.
Adhere to hygiene, cleaning and disinfection requirements from the CDC and NYSDOH and maintain logs on-site that document date, time, and scope of cleaning and disinfection.
Designate a staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. Employees should know who this person is and how to contact them.
Implement mandatory health screening assessment before employees begin work each day, asking about (1) COVID-19 symptoms in past 14 days, (2) positive diagnostic COVID-19 test in the past 14 days, and (3) close contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case in past 14 days.
Prohibit any employee or student who screens positive for any of the above criteria (i.e., symptoms, test, or close contact) to enter the school and send them home with instructions to contact their health care provider for assessment and testing.
Restrict nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving other groups.
Please know that the Farmingdale School District will adhere to guidelines issued by the Governor’s Office, the New York State Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our goal is to return to a traditional school environment as soon as possible while providing the safest conditions. Remember that our plan will not be perfect but we will strive to do the best work possible this summer to give our students and staff a safe place to learn in September.
To complete the survey, please click here.
Thank you for your participation in filling out this important survey and I wish you a healthy and restful summer!
JULY 2, 2020 - ROBOCALL
Hello to my Farmingdale Family,
I’m reaching out today to thank you for your patience and support over the last several months. I’m sure many of you felt a deep sense of relief to make it to the end of the school year, but I know you remain concerned about what lies ahead for September.
Rest assured, we have already begun to work on our reopening plan. Last month, we created a district-wide task force to design an instructional plan for the start of the new school year. The Administrative Team, the Shared Decision Making Committee, and various leadership teams are presently drafting guidelines for a multitude of policies and procedures to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Our goal is maximum flexibility, with the possibility of pivoting to remote learning if the need arises.
Next week, you will be invited to participate in a survey that will help inform us of your utmost concerns. Your voices are crucial to our plan and I encourage every parent to participate. No school district will be able to come up with a perfect plan to reopen. But, by working together, we believe we can come up with the best plan possible for Farmingdale.
Over the summer, I will continue to keep you updated about important developments, and I encourage you to refer to the district website for the latest information. Beginning Monday, July 6th, our administrative and clerical staff will return to work on-site. As always, they will be available throughout the summer to address your questions and concerns. Visitors will not be permitted in the building, so I encourage you to contact all staff via phone or email.
I’m pleased to announce that as of Monday, July 6th, the Farmingdale School District is authorized to open all fields and playgrounds to the community, which were previously closed by order of the Governor.
They will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Everyone must practice social distancing etiquette and no more than 10 people per field or playground are allowed. Security will be present to ensure all rules are followed. At this time, organized sports are still prohibited, and permits are unable to be issued to any community groups. Please note that we continue to be obligated to keep our indoor facilities closed to the community.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation as we make our way, step-by-step, to a new normal.
I wish you all a wonderful start to your summer and a happy and safe 4th of July weekend.
MAY 22, 2020 - LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY
Dear Farmingdale Community Members,
This year’s School Budget Vote and Board of Education Trustee Elections will take place on June 9, 2020, exclusively by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the next week, you will be receiving a postcard from the district with important information regarding the 2020 budget hearing date and time, absentee ballot voting, qualifications for eligible voters, and how to register to vote (if you are not already registered). Please be reminded that eligible voters must be registered to receive an absentee ballot. If you have not registered to vote there is still time to do so using the information provided below.
The Farmingdale School District encourages all members of the community to take an active role in the school budget vote and trustee election. As a result of the pandemic, many of our young adults— who would typically be in college during the school budget vote— are home and able to cast a ballot. If you have any college-age students in your home that have not registered to vote, please encourage them to register so that they too have the opportunity to vote.
Registering is easy and can be done online at https://voterreg.dmv.ny.gov/MotorVoter. All you need is a driver’s license, permit, or non-driver New York State issued ID card. Please note that this year there is no in-person registration process. The final day to register online is May 26, 2020, and we strongly encourage you to register as soon as possible to ensure that you receive an absentee ballot for the 2020 Farmingdale School Budget Vote and Trustee Elections on June 9, 2020.
This is a critical vote for our school district and an important time to make your voices heard. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the District Clerk at 516 434-5170.
May 20, 2020 - ROBOCALL TRANSCRIPT
Good Afternoon to My Farmingdale Family,
This is Paul Defendini and today is Wednesday, May 20th.
Several weeks ago, the Governor announced that schools across the State were directed to remain closed for the duration of the school year. Our remote learning plans have continued during this extended closure. As of yet, we do not have specific directives from the State regarding two questions that still need to be addressed at the local level. The first question is, what are we to do about Friday and Tuesday of the Memorial Day Weekend? The second question is, when is our last day of learning here in Farmingdale?
Our decisions about these questions are based on a number of factors. First and foremost, we need to ensure that the Farmingdale School District completes the number of school days required by the State. Failure to meet this requirement would result in a financial penalty. The second factor is to ensure that we provide enough time for us to conclude our instructional plans, and to submit and verify final grades for the current school year. And lastly, we as a district want to be respectful of the challenges that we, as a community, have all faced during this pandemic.
Therefore, the Farmingdale School District has amended its calendar as follows:
The district will continue with its remote learning plan on Friday, May 22nd, and on Tuesday, May 26th. These will be regular days of learning.
Monday, May 25th, which is Memorial Day, will be a day off for all students and district staff.
By adding these days to our calendar, and considering the loss of vacation days during the April Break, our new last day of school for all of our students and teachers is Monday, June 15th.
Your child’s principal will be sharing what our last few weeks of school will look like as we prepare to collect assignments and finalize grades.
It is vital that you understand that this local decision. It is possible that the State still could require all school districts in New York to amend their year-end plans. If at any point, our plan is required to change due to directives from the State, I will reach out to you with the revised plan.
The second part of this announcement pertains to our summer programs. We remain committed to providing virtual summer school environments for the high school, for our twelve-month special education program, and for our summer ENL programs at Saltzman East Memorial and Farmingdale High School. More information on these programs will be sent in the weeks to come.
You may have recently received news that the Farmingdale Youth Council will be canceling its summer recreation program for the first time in 70 years. We, as a school system, understand the factors at play and respect their decision. In-kind, we are also closing down all of our facilities to outside organizations, including any organized event that is scheduled inside of our buildings or on our district fields. This will give us the needed time to prepare these facilities for our anticipated opening in September 2020.
We are hoping to open our outdoor facilities, such as our tracks and fields, for general community use in the near future. We will continue to keep you updated as information and guidelines are provided to us from the State and Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
We are in the home stretch, we have only three more full weeks left to go. Let’s make them the best three weeks possible here in Farmingdale. Until next time, be safe and remember that we are all in this together.
May 14, 2020 - Virtual Learning Schedule English/Spanish
MAY 13, 2020 - ROBOCALL TRANSCRIPT
Hello to My Farmingdale Family,
This is Paul Defendini and today is May 13, 2020. It has been quite the week here in Farmingdale. A week filled with new information coming from Albany and new opportunities for us to rise to the occasion. We have announced some exciting plans for our year-end celebrations, with more news to come in the next week.Tonight I will be sharing a few important updates and some insights on dealing with the road ahead.
You are now well aware that the Governor, through a recent executive order, has closed down schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 year. The question I am still receiving on a nearly daily basis is, what does that mean for us here in Farmingdale? When is our last day of school and what are we doing for the Memorial Day break? I continue to work to get you a definitive answer to that question. I know it is on everybody’s mind. I can assure you that it is on my mind as well. I promise you that an answer is forthcoming in the next few days.
Tomorrow, you will be receiving a text message from me with a link updating you on a change that we are making to our secondary instructional plan. In short, this most recent change, which will take effect on Monday, creates a more structured environment for our students and teachers. I have committed to you from the beginning of our closure that our goal was to learn and grow through our professional educational communities. We understand that many of our students, parents, and staff members have sought out a more structured environment. This next step will hopefully provide that desired structure.
Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving information about this year’s upcoming budget vote. The process will look very different than the prior year’s budget vote. Most notably, there is no in-person voting. Voting will happen through absentee ballots that will be mailed to all of our nearly 30,000 registered voters. We are also contending with a difficult economic time in our Nation’s history. We are taking all of this into account. Please carefully read the information that is being sent home. It is vital, more now than ever before, that we are an informed electorate. Your vote and the impact it has on the district’s annual budget determines many of the opportunities that are available to our students.
Lastly, the other day I received a piece of advice and it stayed with me since that time. It has helped, at least a little. It is very simple, “Give yourself a break.” We are all up to our eyeballs figuring out how to navigate this new reality. If someone else hasn’t already told you this then I will take the liberty to say it now, “YOU ARE DOING GREAT.” There are no perfect solutions or universal right decisions. Everybody’s reality is at the very least a little different, and navigating this time in our history is simply hard. Keep on doing what Daters do. We are the kind of people that roll up our sleeves and do the hard work, the heavy lifting. We don’t take the easy road. We don’t give up, ever. It is that shared value that defines us as Dalers and it is that shared value that will get us through this difficult time. And when all else fails, remember that staying together amidst all of these challenges will make us stronger on the other side. Stay safe Farmingdale and remember that we will get through this together.
APRIL 21, 2020 - ROBOCALL TRANSCRIPT
Good Evening to My Farmingdale Family,
This is Paul Defendini and today is April 21, 2020. Tonight’s message contains information pertaining to our continued closure, grading, the cancellation of Regents Exams and graduation pathways. You do not have to take notes. You will be receiving a transcript of this message in the next few minutes. Below is a link to supplemental information with all the pertinent details.
First, as you are likely aware, the Governor extended school closures across New York State through Friday, May 15th. We continue to be cautiously optimistic about our potential reopening in the 2019/20 school year.
As a reminder, yesterday was the first day of the fourth quarter for our secondary students. Grades for the third quarter will be posted in the student portal in the days to come. The grading scheme for the third quarter can be summed up as follows:
Grades were calculated by your child’s teacher through the last day that schools were open on Friday, March 13th.
Assignments and grades issued from March 16th through April 17th can only help your child’s grades.
Parents of children that failed a class will be contacted directly
Any parent with concerns over their child’s grade should reach out via email to the respective teacher
The grading structure for the fourth quarter is based on a “first do no harm” mindset. We understand that these are complicated times and circumstances are different for different families. This system was designed with this idea in mind. In its simplest form, the district will be using a banded numeric grading system for the fourth quarter. We have created four grades that our secondary students can receive.
One of the main reasons that we selected this numeric system is that it will keep our educational community accountable and engaged while providing our students with the benefits of a manageable workload. Our efforts in grading will be focused on participation and engagement. Later today, you will be receiving a document containing the details about the grading bands, about who is responsible for providing grades, about what we are doing if a child is failing a course and about how we are arriving at final grades.
Next, the June 2020 administration of the Regents Exams has been canceled by the New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents. Students in grades 8-12 who pass or have passed a Regents-level class and were scheduled to take (or re-take) the Regents exam this June will receive credit for the test. There is no requirement to make up the 2020 Regents exams in the future.
If a student failed a Regents exam or multiple Regents exams previously and passed the respective class(es), those students have been automatically registered to take the Regents this June. Since the exams were canceled, students will automatically get the Regents credit as long as they passed the course. The district is taking this action on behalf of all of our students.
Once more, you will be receiving information shortly that lays out all the details of this plan and responds to a number of Frequently Asked Questions. The information is comprehensive but important. I hope that you and your families continue to be well in this uncertain time and I look forward to our eventual return.
Click here to access the Dalers Learning at Home FAQ Parent Guide to Navigating the Remainder of the School Year