In the face of adversity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic last school year, Dutchess BOCES staff successfully solved the problems they encountered, Board President Michael Riehl said, kicking off the 2021-22 school year.

“This new year we will have new challenges, but we know the staff is working hard to solve problems before they exist and we’re looking to you to help solve the problems,” he said, during the district's virtual convocation Wednesday.

The focus from new Superintendent Jason Schetelick and Deputy Superintendent Jodi DeLucia was all on the students.

“We need to create a safe environment for all students,” Schetelick said, saying that the focus this year will be on creating relationships with each other and students; social emotional learning and trauma-informed practices; and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Schools must be places that are not only safe, but serve to engage and nurture students, he said.

He encouraged everyone to make the effort to lift everyone up.

DeLucia said students are, “looking to us. We are their sense of normalcy.”

She and Schetelick plan to visit classrooms and departments and want to hear from staff about what is needed to help them do their jobs better.

“We are a team. If you need help, reach out. We want to hear your voice,” she said, speaking on behalf of district administrators.

During the convocation, Schetelick and DeLucia emphasized the new safety guidelines (based on the Centers for Disease Control guidelines) for students and staff. Among the key points:

  • Indoors masks must be worn regardless of whether social distancing is possible.
  • Students must be three feet apart from each other in classrooms and six feet from adults.
  • Students can unmask when eating, during physical education activities, when playing a musical instrument, singing or playing a woodwind instrument. BUT, they must then be six feet apart.
  • Staff must maintain a distance of six feet from each other and students.