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Webutuck addresses snow days, student attendance

WEBUTUCK — The North East (Webutuck) Central School District Board of Education (BOE) met on Monday, Nov. 2, via videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting can now be viewed at www.webutuckschools.org.

Director of Student Services/Curriculum and Instruction Jennifer Eraca said her department is adjusting and planning for when the district returns to normal. 

Regarding the proposal for an in-school based health clinic, Eraca reported that on Wednesday, Oct. 28, she and Eugene Brooks Intermediate School nurse Charlie Davis presented plans for the clinic at the New York State School Boards Association convention. Eraca said they spoke of the reasons for the clinic and its benefits. They explained an on-campus clinic “equals opportunity.” She said the association gave a lot of feedback.

Reporting the latest on the capital improvement project, Business Administrator Robert Farrier said the control panel has been installed and was being wired. The work was expected to continue for a few days, along with work on the pumps. The district also wants to blacktop by winter.

Farrier later said the state released its mid-year finance report and that “it’s not pretty.” He added the state hasn’t made any decisions regarding school aid, and was waiting until after the elections. It was hopeful some federal aid would be provided to states (regardless of who won). 

As it was only November, Farrier said the district would begin budget talks for next year shortly. He said the BOE must wait until it knows the revenue component — the most vital piece of the budget process.

Superintendent Raymond Castellani spoke of snow delays and cancellation procedures. The state will allow New York school districts to use remote learning as a day of instruction instead of a snow day. The Pine Plains district has declined to use the pilot program for the present. 

Saying Webutuck will take advantage of the program, Castellani said, “It may not be every single time that it snows — there is something about having a day in the snow… but in speaking with the administration, speaking with the Teachers’ Association, we thought that, again, because our virtual is going well … why lose a day of instruction not knowing what’s going to happen in the future with COVID and what the state or the country is going to do?”

Castellani pointed out the benefits of keeping snow days in reserve to use in the spring if there’s a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Hopefully, there won’t be too many of those days, he said, adding that it’s good to have them when needed.

Castellani remarked parents must continue working with teachers to make sure students get their work done. A decision-making flow chart to help determine student attendance from the state’s Department of Health was projected on screen. Castellani, with assistance from Farrier, guided BOE and community members watching from home through symptoms and other related factors to help determine whether a student should physically attend school. Farrier said the district will remain strict because it wants to be open for in-person learning for as much of the school year as possible. 

Currently, Webutuck is closed due to new positive COVID cases. For more, see this week’s front page.

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