Onteora to deliver food, educational materials during school closure

The Onteora Central School District has outlined its program to provide food support for families in need who depend upon the district for regular meals during the school year. The district also says it is ready to institute its online teaching program, beginning Monday, March 16, for the duration of the closure.

On Friday, March 13, all schools in Ulster County were ordered closed by county executive Pat Ryan from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19. Now that the mandate has been issued, Onteora is rolling out the plans it first revealed at its Tuesday, March 10 Board of Education meeting, to enable students to access educational materials and meals.

In a March 14 letter addressed to Onteora families (available at https://www.onteora.k12.ny.us/ and the district’s official Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/OnteoraCSD) the district asked that households with enrolled children aged 18 years and under who are interested in receiving meal delivery during the closure, get in touch. Interested individuals may fill out the form posted at https://forms.gle/Bv4QB87MzWwM9Krq7, or call 845657-6383 x 1012 to provide the name(s) of the students, their physical address, and a preferred contact method.

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Families may self-select for the service. “There is no qualifier for being in need of support,” said Onteora superintendent Victoria McLaren, adding, “We want to support our families, and if they ask for our support, we will provide everything that we can.”

Instructional packages

At the board meeting and in a March 12 letter addressed to parents and guardians, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Jodi DeLucia described grade-level-specific “emergency instructional packets and materials” that were being assembled for distribution to district households in the event of a closure. Following up in a March 14 email, DeLucia confirmed that the district had completed and disseminated the curriculum-continuity modules and that online resources for all grade levels would be available electronically to families no later than Monday morning, March 16.

DeLucia said that more information will be available on the district website (see above) regarding distribution and expectations.

For K-3 students, the primary focus of the packets is to provide parents with literacy and math books and games to reinforce skills and prevent regression. For other grade levels, a variety of online learning platforms — including Google Classroom, Castle Learning, and links to district-purchased and free online resources — will be utilized. While every high school student has a designated Chromebook, the staff is additionally taking measures to identify students who have limited access to technology.

Free Spectrum broadband for those without it

On a related note, beginning Monday, March 16, Charter, a broadband communications company, will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395.

“We are in support of this mandated closure and are complying with the directive from the County Executive, but our priority is supporting our students and their families,” said McLaren. ”We know that this two-week closure will cause great amounts of stress for our families, and we want to mitigate as much of that as we can.

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