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RCSD Community Update: 12/18/20

December 18, 2020

Dear RCSD Community,

I hope that you and your families enjoyed yesterday’s snow day. It seems as if the decision to have an old-fashioned snow day was the first universally acclaimed decision I have made since the outset of the pandemic. I have heard reliable reports that the sledding was top-notch, but it wasn’t the best packing snow for snowballs or for building snow people. Hopefully, it provided a much-needed break from this strange and stressful world we are all living in. Many thanks to all who shared photos and videos of their snowy adventures with me. 

To lighten up next week a bit, I declare Tuesday, December 22, to be a Rye City School District student, faculty, and staff Pajama Day. Please join me in wearing your coziest pajamas to either in-person or remote school that day. 

Since my last update, we have had 10 new cases: five at Rye High School, two at Rye Middle School, two at Midland, and one at Osborn School. The Department of Health continues to require that we ask anyone who has been in a room with a known-positive case to quarantine for two weeks, no matter the size of the room or the distance between individuals. On December 13, we were forced to close the Middle School for the remainder of the calendar year due to the number of faculty/staff who have been asked to quarantine based on exposure to a positive individual. On December 14, we made the decision to close the High School for the remainder of the year due to the number of faculty/staff in quarantine and the surge in cases among that school population. I am hopeful that we can begin the new year afresh at all our schools.

Microcluster Update and Testing

To date, Rye has not been identified as a microcluster zone, but in case we are, the District now has an agreement with a testing partner, a company called Zeel, to assist us should we be designated a red zone. We very much hope not to have to call on them, but know that we are ready, willing, and able to test students and staff as required in order to keep schools open.

New York State Travel Guidelines

New York State Travel Guidelines remain the same as they were at Thanksgiving: travelers returning to New York from a non-contiguous state are required to have a negative COVID-19 test three days before departure, and again on the fourth day back in New York, or they must quarantine for a full fourteen days. The contiguous states are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Travelers from these states are not subject to the travel guidance/quarantine requirements. 

New RMS Principal

I sent out a message to the community on Wednesday morning announcing the appointment of Mr. Joseph DiGiovanni to the role of Principal at Rye Middle School. I understand that some of our parents did not receive it; we later learned that some Gmail customers were added to Blackboard’s “naughty list” after the worldwide Google meltdown on Monday.  For those who missed it, the communication is here. Please join me in congratulating Mr. DiGiovanni on his very well-deserved appointment.

Hybrid Learning/Reopening Focus Groups and Surveys

The District will complete its focus groups with parents, faculty/staff, and high school students later this afternoon. Thank you to everyone who participated; the feedback and suggestions have been invaluable. A final reminder to please complete and submit your surveys. The deadline for parent surveys is today; the link is here. The deadline for faculty and staff is Monday; please check your email in-boxes for a communication from Panorama Surveys. I look forward to providing the community with a report on the survey and focus group results in late January.

My next community update will come on January 8. While it will certainly be a different kind of winter break this year, I am looking forward to some downtime at home with my family. My daughter Hannah will be returning home from school in Colorado for a spell, so it will be nice to have her with us. I always get a kick out of our dog Daisy’s joyful response to her human sister’s homecoming. 

Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy holiday season and winter recess.

Sincerely,

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools