Return to Headlines

Spring Elementary Parent-Teacher Conferences and Remote Learning Update

Dear RCSD Elementary Student Parents and Guardians,

I hope you all experienced a more relaxed week of remote learning last week.  I also hope that you and your families are healthy and well. Yesterday, the stay-at home-order extended to May 15 and our schools will remain closed until further notice and remote learning will continue. We are continuously in contact with the Governor’s Office, the Westchester County Executive, and the State Education Department and will share information related to the schools as we receive it.

As you may know, parent-teacher conferences were to have taken place this year on April 29. Given the continuing uncertainty about when schools will reopen, we have decided to cancel regular parent-teacher conferences for this spring.

If a teacher has a concern about a particular student’s academic development over the course of the spring, the teacher will reach out directly to the student’s parents/guardians to schedule a time to speak. As always, if a parent/guardian has a concern about their student, be it related to performance, assignments or other matters, they should reach out to the teacher directly via email. We have seen a huge uptick in parent-teacher communication during this period of remote learning, and we hope that will continue. It takes a village, as they say.

Unfortunately, due to the extended school closing, we will have to cancel the spring vocal, orchestra, and band concerts. This is a great disappointment to all of us, especially the music students and teachers who have practiced and worked hard this term.  We hope we can be together again soon to hear their wonderful performances.

Our faculty and administration continue to work toward improving our remote programming. We have seen significant increases in the number of live lessons and interactions through Google Hangouts in the past three weeks. We expect to see that trend continue as teachers become more comfortable and proficient with the technology and management of an online classroom. We are also striving to improve in several other areas based on feedback we have been receiving from students and families. The first area is student workload. We are working to balance the workload of students and be mindful of the stressors facing young people today and the challenges of access to technology. Another factor we know has been challenging is Internet bandwidth. With everyone working and schooling at home, Internet speed can be problematic and some families need to stagger time online throughout the day. As a result, we are working on improving teacher schedule coordination. With more and more teachers using Hangouts with students, time conflicts have also arisen. We are working to improve our virtual coordination so that we can limit overlapping live interactions.

Please keep in mind our teachers are constantly working to do their very best to deliver a quality program despite significant challenges. Sadly, members of our faculty and staff have faced illness and the loss of family members during this unprecedented crisis, just as many of our families have. Additionally, many teachers are experiencing the same child care challenges that families across the country are facing while trying to teach, plan instruction, grade work, and be responsive to parents and students alike. Patience and understanding are of utmost importance during this trying time. Please be respectful of the challenges teachers are experiencing and know that they are doing their best to provide a positive school experience for your children. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your student’s teacher directly. We continue to work at meeting the needs of all students during this challenging time.

We appreciate all of the efforts of our families during this crisis. We know it isn’t easy to juggle jobs, illness, fear, anxiety, and schooling at home. Our collaborative efforts and appreciation for each other as we work through the challenges we are all facing will help us to emerge a stronger community and a more united school system. We can do this and our children will continue to grow and thrive in the Rye City schools.

Thank you and stay well and healthy,
Dr. Eric Byrne
Superintendent of Schools