Dutchess County Declares COVID-19 State of Emergency; Directs All County Schools to Close From Mon, March 16 through Friday, March 27
This information will serve as an update on Dutchess County’s current response, and the response of many, if not all, school districts across Dutchess County, in an effort to address the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Yesterday afternoon, all Dutchess County school superintendents participated in a teleconference with the Dutchess County Commissioner of Behavioral and Community Health and the County Executive. We were informed of the steps being taken at the County level to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. As I mentioned in yesterday’s letter, they announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Dutchess County and assured each of us that should a confirmed case develop in our school communities, we would be promptly informed by the Department of Health. To date, there are no cases of COVID-19 in our school community, but should that change, we would expect the immediate involvement of the Dutchess County Department of Health, of which we will make our school community aware.
In addition, County Executive Molinaro has recommended that Dutchess County school districts not participate in large social gatherings, which they have defined as involving 20+ individuals, and he asked organizations that sponsor these to postpone such events. As a result, most, if not all, after-school and evening activities have been or will be cancelled for the foreseeable future. The purpose of restricting large social gatherings is to limit the contact between students and those populations at higher risk, such as the elderly, and also to limit the access of people from different communities to one another, especially in large groups.
However, just this afternoon, all Dutchess County school superintendents participated in another teleconference with the County Executive Marc Molinaro, at which he announced that he was declaring a State of Emergency for Dutchess County, as the same was occurring for Orange and Ulster counties, aligned with the general presence of individuals with coronavirus symptoms in these areas. It should be encouraging to note that, as of today, no individuals in the Rhinebeck school district area have been reported to us as being COVID-19 symptomatic.
However, as a result, all Dutchess County schools, including Rhinebeck High School, Bulkeley Middle School, and Chancellor Livingston Elementary School, will be closed for two weeks, effective this Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, for students and for all classroom and extracurricular activities, including interscholastic athletics, as well as for any large public gatherings (20+ individuals). Under Dutchess County’s current State of Emergency Declaration, school buildings may be kept open for administrative and other staff functions. Access to school buildings is not restricted for those functions at this time.
This Monday, all school buildings will be closed to students and staff, including the staffs of all of the school offices The District’s administrative team will report, for the purpose of finalizing plans and logistics for the continuity of instruction during the period designated by the County State of Emergency Declaration. Also, the District Office staff will report to maintain the necessary services required for the continuity of operations. All other school district personnel will not be required to report to work on Monday.
We will be communicating additional information to parents and to staff on Monday afternoon/ evening regarding plans for continuity of instruction for students in each of our schools for this two-week period of time during which normal instructional activities have been suspended. Staff will also be informed on Monday afternoon/evening, via their school me-mail, regarding plans for their return to work later this coming week.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and for your patience as we work through these unprecedented and volatile conditions to support the health, and the education, of our community members, in New York State, in Dutchess County, and in the Rhinebeck Central School District.