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RCSD Community Update

October 9, 2020

Dear Rye Community,

Over the last week, we have seen an increase in the positive COVID-19 cases in the communities around us and several area schools needing to close temporarily.  We also faced our first cases of COVID-19 at RMS and RHS. Each positive test result is a unique situation and requires an individual response, which can present some challenges. We will be discussing the impact of positive cases in more detail at our Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, October 13, but below please find a short primer on how the District handles these situations.

When the District learns of a positive case either from the County or an affected individual, the District contacts the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to discuss details of the case and to develop a plan of action. Along with the DOH, we develop an understanding of the level of exposure for individuals in the Rye Schools community. The District then compiles a list of individuals with contact information and provides it to the DOH for contact tracing purposes. The District notifies individuals who were potentially exposed and informs them that they may have been exposed, that contact tracing is in process, and that the DOH recommends quarantine while they await a telephone call from a DOH contact tracer. While the District informs affected individuals immediately, the DOH controls the contact tracing process, and the timing is variable and dependent on the current caseload. We recognize that waiting for these calls can be very frustrating and stressful. Please know that the District will continue to provide our families with accurate and timely information.

I have received numerous inquiries from parents and faculty about a full return to school and if we must continue implementing six-foot social distancing in our schools.  Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to speak with both Governor Cuomo’s office and with County Executive George Latimer to clarify our health and safety protocols in Rye and to develop a better understanding of their positions on the required six feet of social distancing. It was made abundantly clear to me by both the Governor’s representative and County Executive Latimer that in order to prevent a spike in cases, we must continue to maintain six-foot social distancing in conjunction with the other safety mitigation measures in place. While we all long for our classrooms to be back to pre-COVID days, we must continue to adhere to our current hybrid schedule.

With hot spots emerging across New York State and increasing positivity rates in Westchester County, it is incumbent upon all of us to be vigilant in our efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the Rye community by continuing to implement known, effective practices to prevent our own exposure and the exposure of others to illness. Face masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene are proven to be the best means of limiting the spread of COVID-19. Please be sure to follow these practices in and out of the school environment and expect to see them in all RCSD programs. The School District has been commended by the DOH for implementing mitigation measures that limit the risk of spread in an effective manner.

We have now concluded all of our Back to School Night programs. Last night, our elementary schools welcomed parents to their first-ever virtual Back to School Night. I had a chance to attend sessions and speak with families and the feedback I've received has been very positive. I know how hard our faculty, administrators, and staff worked to create an engaging, informative evening. Once again, our RCSD professionals rose to the challenge - thank you.

Please note there has been a change to the schedule vis-a-vis Board of Education meetings. A book talk about So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo was to take place at the October 13 Board of Education meeting. It will now take place at the October 27 meeting so the meeting on October 13 can focus on COVID-19 protocols. We hope you will join us (virtually) for both of the meetings.

Enjoy the long, holiday weekend.

Stay safe,

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools