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Community Update on School Reopening Planning

Dear Rye Community,

I am writing to provide you with an update on the status of planning for reopening schools in the Rye City School District (RCSD).

The RCSD’s Reopening Task Force has been working incredibly hard to prepare plans and be ready for September. For more information on the work of the Task Force and to see the Task Force presentation from the July 7th Board of Education meeting click here.  

The RCSD and all school districts in New York received interim guidance on reopening schools from the New York State Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, July 13.  You may view the guidance by clicking here.

The District also received a 145-page document with additional reopening guidelines from the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) on Thursday, July 16. To view this guidance, click here. 

Unfortunately, there is significant ambiguity in both sets of guidance and some conflicting guidelines between the two documents, as well as some conflicting information within each of the two documents. The RCSD and other school districts are working together to obtain clarification from the DOH and NYSED on those points.  Simultaneously, the District is in the process of reviewing both sets guidelines and aligning them with the District's proposed reopening plans.  We also need to consider our unique district parameters such as high enrollment and high usage of building capacity. 

Governor Cuomo has mandated that all school districts must prepare and submit to the State by next Friday, July 31, reopening plans for three potential scenarios in the fall:

  1. Fully in-person schooling
  2. A hybrid model with both in-person schooling and remote schooling
  3. Fully remote schooling

All of these plans will be posted to the District’s website (www.ryeschools.org) on July 31 for members of the community to review. I will send out another communication at that time with additional information.

The District is also required to submit plans to the State for significant health, safety, and cleaning protocols and mechanisms for tracking student attendance which will be vital to capture in the event of a positive COVID-19 case. The District has been working with medical and safety experts during the planning process to ensure we have the most current information on health and safety protocols. 

For both fully in-person or hybrid schooling scenarios, face coverings, such as masks, and/or social distancing/physical barriers will be required. The District’s reopening task force is looking at various means of promoting social distancing, including holding some class instruction using existing outdoor spaces. Please be aware that all public school districts are still subject to significant restrictions with regards to the use of outdoor structures like tents or awnings; those temporary structures are subject to the same building codes as all of the District’s school buildings, up to and including a lengthy State approval process for their use.  As such, our use of outside structures may be limited.  

Governor Cuomo has stated he will make a final decision about the reopening of schools sometime during the first week of August (August 1-7). However, that guidance is subject to change before the opening of school, should the number of positive cases change in our region.  We will communicate that information and its impact for the RCSD as soon as it is available. 

I understand that many parents and community members were hoping to receive more definitive information and certainty as a result of the State guidance. We will provide additional details and information later next week as we continue to work on the District’s reopening plan. Please know our first priority is the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff and our reopening plans will reflect that commitment.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions. 

Sincerely,

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools