Bedford Central School District Superintendent Joel Adelberg and members of the Board of Education read students the riot act this week after learning about several irresponsible gatherings that took place over last weekend.
In a letter sent to community members Monday, Sept. 28, district leaders said they were informed by local police authorities “that large groups of Fox Lane High School students attended large gatherings this weekend, without regard for social distancing, masks and all of the health and safety measures we have all been asked to follow.”
The letter went on: “To say that we are disappointed in those students who partook in these activities is an understatement. There is no justification for putting themselves and others at significant risk.”
Off-campus social gatherings have created a problem for school districts across the country. Although New York has worked hard to gain control of the virus, new cases of COVID-19 continue to emerge, with reports of isolated spikes in some areas. Earlier this month, the principal of Roslyn High School on Long Island wrote a sternly-worded letter addressed to the student body after a photo of a party with over 100 students went viral. A week later, the Pelham School District decided to postpone in-person instruction after learning 100 of its high school students attended parties with no social distancing or masks involved.
Bedford Central School District was hoping to avoid making similar headlines.
“Our administrators, faculty, and staff have worked tirelessly to get us to the place where we have been able to open our schools for those ready to return. It has taken the herculean efforts of so many to create systems to make school work during a pandemic,” Monday’s letter from BCSD leadership reads.
The communication followed less than one week since the district reported its first case of COVID-19, confirmed the Fox Lane High School campus. The Board of Education and Mr. Adelberg opted for an aggressive response. Authorities have provided the district with the names of students they were able to identify as having participated in last weekend’s parties. In turn, the district has shared those names with the Westchester County Department of Health, which planned to cross-reference the list of those in attendance with those already quarantined last week. If it is determined that there were students currently quarantined in attendance, the county DOH and law enforcement could take additional measures.
The district’s letter also stated the names of students who attended these gatherings would be shared with FLHS administration. The BOE and Mr. Adelberg authorized the FLHS administration to place those students on remote learning beginning Tuesday, Sept. 29, and continuing for a minimum of 14 days, with the earliest date of return to in-person, hybrid learning being Oct. 13. Students placed on remote learning must submit a letter of clearance from their health care provider or the DOH in order to return. Further, those students placed on remote learning will not be able to participate in any athletics or other school activities on campus.
The Board of Education and Mr. Adelberg ended their letter with a plea to family members to reinforce safety guidelines. “This is about public health. If some high school students are proving unable to make mature choices, their parents and guardians need to step in.”
In an email to The Record-Review, April Olsen, co-president of the FLHS parent association, said the group was “very happy with and fully support(s) Dr. Adelberg’s handling of COVID-19 concerns. We concur with his views and standards as it regards our community.” Other district communications on the pandemic response are planned. The superintendent is hosting a town hall today, Friday, Oct. 2, from 11:15 a.m. to noon, to further discuss district protocols and procedures for making determinations related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Community members could send in questions in advance, and there will be an opportunity during the Town Hall to submit additional questions. The Town Hall will be recorded and available on the BCSD website for viewing by those unable to attend.
Parents and guardians are also encouraged to view the district’s COVID-19 school report card, an online dashboard launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September that tracks real-time COVID-19 infections and testing operations of every New York school and school district. The report card is updated daily by the district and includes:
- Positive infections by date of students and staff by school and school district.
- Whether school operations are remote, in-person or hybrid.
- Number of students and staff on-site.
- Percentage of on-site students and staff who test positive.
- Number of tests administered by the school, test type, lab used and lag time.
- Date of last submission/update.
For the latest COVID-19 information, visit schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov.