Board of Education Report: 10/7/2020

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By Matthias Lai, Staff Editor

The Board of Education has a profound impact on the way we learn, yet students are rarely aware of the discussions. This year, The Maroon will attempt to be a voice for the students at the BOE, as Matthias Lai gives weekly roundups of what you need to know from each meeting, all in quick, easy-to-read form.

  • New Paltz Central School District 10/7 Board of Education Meeting
  • When: October 7th, 2020, 7-9PM, with the public meeting beginning around 7:30PM
  • Where: via Zoom
  • Attendees: BOE President Glenn LaPolt, Vice President Diana Armstead, District Clerk Sandra Ermo, BOE Members Brian Cournoyer, Sophia Skiles, Bianca Tanis, Theresa Thompson and Mike O’Donnell, District Superintendent Angela Urbina-Medina, and District Assistant Superintendent for Business Sharifa Carbon.

Important Points

1. Addressing Racist Comments Made Online:

Board President Glenn LaPolt issued a public comment condemning recent racist comments and social media posts made in reference to Superintendent Urbina-Medina.  Vice President Armstead commended her for her “historic accomplishment,” and Board members offered her their support in her role.  Armstead then urged New Paltz residents, “Rather than being a distractor, be a voice of positive change.”

Sophia Skiles, the BOE Liaison to the District’s Racial Equity Advisory Board, asked Board members to attend the REIAC’s next meeting, and to “rethink the charge” of the committee.  Skiles also called for special meetings between the BOE and the REIAC, and acknowledged the committee’s recent growth.

2. Public Comment About Reopening Continues:

Many parents submitted public comments asking about the reopening plans, especially for the high school, and addressed issues of stress, burdensome workloads, and issues of hybrid learning for special needs children.  Board member Bianca Tanis stated that “every school district has its own set of challenges” and “we’re never going to be able to meet the needs of everyone.”  Other members added that the BOE is working hard to come up with a safe and effective plan, and Tanis ended the segment by declaring “I would like to challenge this Board” to affirm in a “concrete” way that we are looking out for the students.

3. Plan for the High School Continues to Evolve:

As of press time, there is currently no plan in place for a physical reopening of the high school.  The hope is to find a natural break, like a transition between quarters, to make the switch, but Superintendent Urbina-Medina stated that “something will have to give.”  One issue spoken about was the handling of schedules, and Urbina-Medina said that “course offerings are going to have to be reduced” for an in-person opening.  In some good news, when pressed about when the school will open for sports, President LaPolt stated that, “our high school is open”, implying that sports may be starting soon, although the procedures and mechanisms will obviously be much different then usual.

4. Immunizations/Isolations Rooms, etc/New Nurses/COVID Protocol:

For reopening, all of the buildings will require new protocol and supplies.  These include “minimizing spaces being used more than once,” adding a “floating nurse role,” “isolation rooms” for students presenting Covid-19 symptoms, PPE and access to testing, among others.  All outside functions, like BOE and PTSA meetings, among others, will remain online to reduce the use of school buildings.

5. Library, Art and Extracurriculars/Digital Citizenship Program:

Extracurriculars will begin to be offered virtually.  There is a procedure for curbside pickup from the high school library, and a plan is being put in place to collect old library books checked out prior to the lockdown. 

6. Miscellaneous:

New language in the code of conduct allows school operated cameras to be placed within classrooms for security purposes.