June 30th Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • June 30, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families;

    As we transition into summer, I wanted to share our status regarding school this fall. 

    All schools in New York State are currently waiting for specific guidance from Governor Cuomo, the New York State Education Department and the New York State Department of Health.   Although we do not have this guidance yet, at a local level we have been working with our administrative team and teacher leadership on potential safety, instructional and logistical plans based on current information from the CDC and other official sources.   We are also reviewing the various surveys that the District recently sent to parents to help in our planning as we move forward.

    The Orchard Park Central School District is also part of a regional planning group with BOCES and other school districts.  Recommendations from this group and others will be shared with the Governor and the New York State Education Department in an attempt to highlight the challenges and generate ideas for a safe return to school this fall, whether it be in person, remotely, or a combination of the two in a hybrid model.  It is our hope that we can safely return in some fashion, face to face, knowing the needs of our students, as well as the schedules of our families. We are hopeful that school districts will receive recommendations from New York State by late July or early August regarding reopening.  

    I will continue to communicate with our families as soon as we receive information from Governor Cuomo, the New York State Education Department, and the New York State Department of Health.   Please stay well as we await further guidance from New York State.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

     

May 18, 2020 Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • May 18, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families;

    I hope this letter finds all of you healthy as we continue to work through this challenging time.  I am writing to share some information regarding our school calendar, including our end of year dates.

    In order to comply with the Governor’s Executive Orders, remote instruction will continue to take place on Friday, May 22nd, which was previously not a day of instruction on our calendar.   With Monday, May 25th being Memorial Day, there will be no remote instruction on that day.

    Our final day of instruction for students is Friday, June 12th.   As previously mentioned, we are also developing a plan for the return of student’s personal items, and we will communicate the plan with parents in the upcoming weeks.

    The 2020-21 Proposed Operating Budget, Bus Purchase and Election of three members to the Board of Education will take place by absentee ballot, per the Governor’s Executive Order.  The ballots will be mailed this week.  All absentee ballots are due back to the District office by 5:00 p.m. on June 9th, 2020.  For more information on the budget and the vote please visit our website and also look for the annual budget newsletter to be emailed and posted on our website later this week.  

    Our administrative team is currently working on school reopening plans, while observing all guidance from our Governor, Erie County and the CDC.  I will continue to communicate with families as we receive more information from our officials.

    Please continue to reach out to us if your student or family is in need.

    Take care and stay healthy.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew McGarrity 
    Superintendent of Schools

     

Plans Regarding Return of Student Property & District Property

  • May 11, 2020

    Dear Families:

    With the closure of our schools for the rest of the year, we are coordinating plans regarding the return of student property and District property.  We will have an opportunity in June for the following:

    • Students/families to pick up personal items from our schools (clothing and personal materials left in desks/lockers);
    • Parent retrieval of prescription medications from the nurses office;
    • Return of District-owned equipment and materials (i.e. textbooks and library books);

    All students who have been provided a Chromebook and graphing calculator from the District, with the exception of our graduating seniors, should keep these devices during the summer. This will allow students to continue to access educational programs to maintain skills throughout the summer.  A separate communication will be shared with families of seniors regarding the return of Chromebooks and graphing calculators. 

    Any families not returning to the OPCSD in the fall are asked to make arrangements to return District owned equipment to their school building by calling the school’s main office.

    The health and safety of students and our entire community continues to be at the heart of the decisions we make.  The end of the school year is certainly vastly different than a typical year. Thank you for your support as we work through the details of managing these changes.

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Matthew McGarrity, Superintendent of Schools
    Dr. Lisa M. Krueger, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction
    Mr. Jon Wolf, OPHS Principal
    Mr. Aaron Grupka, OPMS Principal
    Mr. Terry Tryon, Eggert Principal
    Mr. Paul Pietrantone, Ellicott Principal
    Mrs. Julie Mampe, South Davis Principal
    Mr. Phil Johnson, Windom Principal

May 1, 2020 Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • May 1, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families;

    I hope this latest communication finds you well as we continue to endure our daily challenges.

    Earlier this afternoon, Governor Cuomo, by executive order, extended the school closure for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  Earlier this week, the New York State Board of Regents canceled the August 2020 Regents exams.

    I realize that the impact of canceling school events is very difficult for our students, parents, teachers, administrators and staff, but in particular it is very difficult for the members of the graduating class of 2020. The Governor’s executive orders and our County Executive and Health Commissioner direct how schools need to operate concerning social distancing and health guidance during this unprecedented time.  Therefore, remote learning, student meals and child care will continue for the remainder of the school year.  There has been no announcement concerning the final day of instruction for students.  We will share end of year dates with families when they become available.

    Our high school has been planning how our district will honor and congratulate the class of 2020 and Mr. Wolf, high school principal, will be communicating information to students and parents.  

    Please continue to stay safe and healthy as we continue to navigate this challenge.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew P. McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

April 17 Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • April 17, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families,

     

    I hope that this letter finds you well as we continue to work together through this challenge.  The longer that our closure continues, the more the need for us to stay connected with students and families. 

    To that end, I want to continue to update you with definitive information when I receive it.  Yesterday, Governor Cuomo announced that the school closure will remain in place through May 15, 2020.   I want to remind students and parents that if they have questions regarding communication, assignments or instruction, please contact your teacher or principal directly.  

    The district’s transportation department has been delivering approximately 550 breakfasts and lunches to eligible children in our school district.  We understand some parents may now suddenly find themselves unemployed, and we are here to support your children. Please email Jeff Petrus at jpetrus@opschools.org if you find that your family is now in need due to a loss of employment.

    I am very proud of the commitment of our teachers, administrators and support staff during this very challenging time, and their work to support our students and families.    I am equally proud of the dedication of our students and their commitment to learning and the support from their families. Together I believe we are all doing the very best we can, given the significance of our circumstances.  As a district, we are continually exploring ways to keep our students engaged and supported at this time.

    Please continue to stay safe and healthy as we continue to navigate this challenge.

    Sincerely,


    Matthew P.  McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

     

Update Regarding Instruction and Engagement with Learning

  • April 13, 2020

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    We hope this letter finds you and yours healthy and safe at home.  Each day during the pandemic brings new information and new hope for a “flattening” of the curve.

    I am writing today to share updates specifically related to instruction and engagement with learning.  Initially, we were hopeful our school closure would last only a few weeks. As such, previewing upcoming material, reviewing previously taught content, and practicing skills were reasonable expectations to maintain skills and avoid regression.  As time passes, however, and the scope and duration of this crisis unfolds, we constantly evaluate our circumstances and do what is best for our faculty, staff, students, families, and community.

    Your child/children have a right to their public education, and we are committed to supporting their continued learning and growth.  Additionally, we are committed to instructing students in the content and skills of the curricula for each grade level/course.  

    Some teachers have already begun to share new concepts, skills and content with students. All teachers will be forging ahead in the curriculum using a variety of tools including instructional videos, Google and Classroom, and videos and resources shared via Seesaw for students in younger grades.   Teachers will be asking your child to submit assignments, and teachers will record assignment participation and provide feedback. Therefore, we ask that you do the best you can to have your child/children engaged as much as possible with the instruction, learning and activities we are sharing. Through continued engagement in the remote learning activities, it is our intention to minimize any potential learning gaps in academic and social-emotional areas.

    We know families are juggling a lot, and there are many pressures and stressors you are dealing with.  Our teachers, school counselors and social workers are here to help. Please reach out for support if needed.  We want your child/children to access their education to the best of their abilities.

    If you have questions regarding this communication, please reach out to your building principal.  

    Please stay safe and healthy.  

    Sincerely,

    Mr. Matthew McGarrity, Superintendent of Schools
    Dr. Lisa M. Krueger, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction
    Mr. Jon Wolf, OPHS Principal
    Mr. Aaron Grupka, OPMS Principal
    Mr. Terry Tryon, Eggert Principal
    Mr. Paul Pietrantone, Ellicott Principal
    Mrs. Julie Mampe, South Davis Principal
    Mr. Phil Johnson, Windom Principal
    Mrs. Lynn Czemerynski, Director of Special Education

COVID-19 Educational Updates from Superintendent McGarrity

  • April 8, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families;

    I hope this letter finds you and your family members well during this challenging time.  I have recent updates from the offices of Governor Cuomo and the New York State Board of Regents.

    Governor Cuomo has extended the state school closures through April 29, and the New York State Board of Regents has cancelled Regents exams for this spring.  The New York State grades 3-8 assessments have also been cancelled for this spring.

    Please click the link below to view the Regents and Graduation Q and A from The New York State Education Department:

    http://www.nysed.gov/common/nysed/files/programs/coronavirus/nysed-covid-19-regents-grad-req-faq.pdf

    We are reviewing this information in its entirety to ascertain all implications for our students.

    During this time, our teachers and administrators are working very hard to provide instruction and lessons for students, while continually building their technology skills as this becomes the new medium for instruction.  Our counselors, social workers and school psychologists are connecting with families and students regarding college planning and mental health needs.  Our support staff members are delivering meals, connecting with students, cleaning buildings and buses, performing grounds work, managing computer systems and chrome book distribution, and working remotely, just to name a few duties.

    As students are working on instruction, please continue to reach out directly to your teachers and principals with questions you may have. 

    Stay Well-

    Matthew McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

April 2, 2020 COVID-19 District Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • April 2, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families;

    First and foremost, I hope this letter finds you and your family safe and healthy during this uncertain time.  As we move into the fourth quarter, I wanted to share the status of many things that are under consideration at this time.

    I understand and share in the disappointment and uncertainty that students and parents are experiencing concerning many areas including college applications, academics, final exams, athletics, music and the arts, award ceremonies, dances and graduation, to name a few.  In the case of a continued closure, the administration is exploring other ways, in many aspects with the use of technology, to still recognize and allow participation for some school events.

    As a district we are abiding by Governor Cuomo’s executive order which has schools closed until April 15th.  Information regarding further closures will come from the Governor’s office and I will share this information with parents and students upon notification.  Governor Cuomo’s recent executive orders have modified or suspended certain laws addressing continuity of instruction, providing meals to students and helping to arrange child care for essential workers.  School districts must continue to provide remote instruction and meals to students as well as childcare for essential workers every weekday through April 14 to receive waivers from the 180-day instructional requirement – even if they had been scheduled to be on spring break during that time.  Our teachers will provide continuity of instruction through April 14th and beyond should the Governor extend the dates for closing schools.   As a district, we recognize the need for flexibility with assignments, knowing that families may have commitments during what would have been spring break. 

    For the OPCSD Learn at Home Academy, your teachers are using a variety of tools and resources for continued learning.  You should be receiving this work with guidance and structure for the learning.  Due to the potential for privacy issues, the use of some online learning tools may change as we navigate through the school closure. 

    If students or parents have questions regarding communication, assignments or instruction, please contact your teacher or principal directly.  During the week, you should receive a response within 24 hours, or as soon as practicable, knowing that our teachers and administrators are also caring for their families during this difficult time.

    As we receive more information and guidance from our state and county officials, I will share this information as quickly as possible.  Please continue to stay safe and healthy as we continue to navigate this challenge.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew P. McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

March 26, 2020 Important Update from Mr. McGarrity

  • March 26, 2020

    Dear Parents/Guardians,

    I hope this communication finds you and your family healthy.  I am writing to share some important updates with you.

    Free breakfast/lunch 

    The OPCSD has been delivering over 500 breakfasts and lunches to free/reduced meal eligible children in our school district.  We understand some parents may now suddenly find themselves laid off or unemployed, and we are here to support your children. Please email Jeff Petrus at jpetrus@opschools.org if you believe that as a result of job loss or loss of income your children may now be eligible for breakfast and lunch.

    Parent Emails in PowerSchool Portal

    Teachers are sharing important assignments, learning tasks and activities with parents via email.  It is critical that we have up-to-date email addresses for parents. Please ensure we have your preferred email address in our PowerSchool Parent Portal.  To confirm your email or change your email, login to the parent portal and click “View/Change Contact Info”, for more detailed directions, please follow these steps: 

    Parent Portal - Change Contacts

    You only need to make a change request once per family, changes will be made for all children.
    If you have further questions on changing contact or for any information in the Parent Portal, please click the   PS HELP   link on the login page.   

    Sincerely,

    Matthew P. McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

March 21, 2020 Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • March 21, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families;

    I hope this letter finds you settling into a routine that addresses the current reality that we are all temporarily experiencing.  These changes are forcing all of us to adapt our lives in just about every way imaginable.

    As part of this transition, we notified all parents yesterday that Orchard Park’s Learn at Home Academy is on our website for your use.  Just like any resource, I encourage you to “unpack” the various resources, links, videos, activities and publications with your child(ren) in order to help develop a daily routine that includes academic, social, emotional and physical activities.

    The intent of the resources is to help keep our students engaged daily in learning and moving forward with a variety of learning materials, and not as a daily lesson plan. 

    With the changes that Orchard Park and all other schools across the nation are facing, we will be sharing resources and ideas with other districts in order to meet the needs of our students.  Accordingly, as we receive other valuable instructional resources, we will update those resources on our website. 

    Finally, I encourage parents to contact their teacher or principal with specific questions they may have regarding our instructional resources.  During this very challenging time, what is most important is the well-being of our students and that we all support each other and communicate with caring and civility.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew P. McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

March 19, 2020 Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • March 19, 2020

    Dear Orchard Park Families,

    I hope this communication finds you healthy while we all manage our lives during this unprecedented time.    I have several updates that I wanted to share as we move forward as a school community.

    As a reminder, all of our buildings are closed and staff are working remotely and not in school at this time.   While our schools are closed I want to remind our families and our community members that this closure includes our playgrounds and athletic fields.   

    Educational/Instructional Resources for Students
    Beginning last week, our teachers, teacher leaders and technology staff members have been very busy developing and organizing the myriad of resources, links and online activities for our students.   We are working to have these posted by Friday, March 20th and parents will be notified through our parent notification system when they are posted.  I believe you will find this to be a thoughtful catalog of learning for our students.  

    Food Service for Eligible Families
    During this week you may have seen district buses on the road.    We are working to make sure that our eligible students are still receiving meals during these challenging times and are delivering their school breakfast/lunch to them. 

    Child Care for Essential Health Care Workers/First Responders
    As we all know, schools are an integral part of any community.    To that end, the Governor has ordered that school districts help with the child care needs of essential health care workers and first responders.  The district has reached out to the following child care centers for our Orchard Park parents who are essential health care workers/first responders to contact if needed:

    Southtowns Family YMCA
    1620 Southwestern Blvd., West Seneca, NY 14224
    Email sbartosz@ymcabn.org
    Contact via phone: (716) 674-9622

    Wee CAN Preschool & Childcare
    40 Center Dr., Orchard Park,  NY 14127
    Contact via phone:  (716) 667-2294

    I am confident that our Orchard Park school community will pull together and we will be a stronger community for having gone through this challenge. 

    Sincerely,

    Matthew P. McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools

     

    MPM/cac

March 16, 2020 Update from Superintendent McGarrity

  • March 16, 2020

    Dear Parents, Guardians, Teachers and Staff,

    With recent news of school closures, I realize that there are many questions that parents and students have regarding everything from Kindergarten registration, to graduation requirements, and everything in between.  As a district, our primary goal right now is to help families provide a safe environment for students as we work through these unprecedented events.

    The New York State Education Department, along with many other critical agencies will be providing more guidance for schools as they work through these questions.  As they provide us with information, we will share relevant updates with you as soon as possible.

    While our schools are closed and not staffed in order to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19, our building nurses are working to communicate directly with families that may need to get medications from buildings.  

    From an instructional resource perspective, we are working with teachers and administrators to provide online educational resources and guidance for parents and students.  We anticipate that this information will begin becoming available Friday, March 20th with more resources forthcoming. 

    Please check the district website regularly for updates.

    I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we navigate these challenging times.

    Sincerely,

    Matthew P. McGarrity
    Superintendent of Schools