May 22 Update

Posted by Daren Lolkema on 5/22/2020 4:00:00 PM

May 22, 2020 Update

Good Afternoon WCSD Community:

Summer School

Governor Cuomo indicated on May 21, that summer school is not going to open statewide for in-class teaching. Instead, summer school offerings would be through distance learning as we have been doing with the Continuity of Learning.  The District has started the process of planning for a virtual summer school for our Extended School Year (ESY) summer programs, for designated students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), and a secondary (Grades 9-12) high school program.  Students and families will be informed of the District’s expectations for virtual summer programs within the next ten days.  Of particular note, summer school programs are scheduled to begin July 6, 2020.  

 We are still waiting on the written Executive Order from the Governor’s Office or further guidance from NYSED, which we are anticipating may contain additional details regarding instructional or programmatic expectations for students and for summer school.

High School Graduation Planning

Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.10 which stated “All Non-Essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason (e.g. worship services, parties, celebrations, or other social events) are canceled or postponed.”  Under the Governor's Order, the State makes all determinations.  Local governments, including County governments, are prohibited from any actions that conflict with the Executive Order.  The Dutchess County Executive’s Office will be posting guidelines and information related to graduations either today or in the very near future;  Since large gatherings are prohibited, places that host large gatherings such as Dutchess Stadium will not be available for graduation activities.

Even though schools will have the ability to implement some alternatives to a traditional graduation ceremony, it is important to note that we will have to review all of our GREAT and EXCITING plans with the Dutchess County Emergency Response Team.  This is to ensure, and rightfully so, the safety of our students, families, community, and county residents.  Additionally, WCSD is the largest school district in Dutchess County as well as the only district to have two large high schools and one alternative high school. With that said, careful consideration has to be given to what is permissible such as “drive-thru” graduation parades without outside spectators, or ceremonies hosted at a drive-in or campus parking lot. In both scenarios, at no point would anyone be allowed to get out of their vehicles as part of these types of group gathering ceremonies and celebrations.

We have reviewed the results of our parent and student graduation surveys and would like to offer the following observations.  The first choice option for both students and parents was to have a limited access socially distant graduation event on our football fields at each high school.  We have been told this definitively cannot happen as per the Governor’s Executive Order. 

The students heavily favored the idea of postponing graduation ceremonies until later in the summer so that we could offer a more traditional ceremony at that time.  Our County officials have told us such large gatherings are highly unlikely to occur within the timeframe.  In the event that these timelines and orders are lifted, a traditional ceremony on our football fields practicing social distancing is not off the table.  However, it is important to note that it is highly unlikely!  They also clarified (as indicated above) that venues such as Dutchess Stadium are not allowed to be used for any gatherings for the foreseeable future. 

Another very popular idea by both parents and students was to use one of our local drive-in theatres.  At this point in time, we do not believe a drive-in hosted ceremony will offer an experience commiserate to this important milestone in our student’s lives.  To elaborate on this, we offer the following reasons:

  1. No one is allowed to exit their vehicles as part of the ceremony;
  2. We must wait until it is dark enough to begin the ceremony so we can view the video, which will make moot the point of having our students ‘see’ each other during the ceremony; and
  3. The logistics of providing clean restroom facilities and other obstacles make hosting at a drive-in very difficult.

However, this does not preclude the utilization of drive-in theatres to conduct a gathering where previously recorded videos of speeches along with slideshows and/or locally made movies can be presented. This has yet to be solidified but dates are reserved.

Our High School Principals have been working proactively with committees for a good amount of time. Now that the expectation and guidelines have been further articulated and detailed as to what would be permissible under the Governor’s Executive Order, you will be receiving more information as to what is to come from each of your building high school principals.  We will do everything we can to honor our students and celebrate their achievements, within the Executive Order and guidelines!  Once again, you will be receiving an announcement from our building principals in the coming week.



Thank you and stay well.



Jose L. Carrion 

Superintendent of Schools