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RCSD Community Update: 12/11/20

December 11, 2020

Dear Rye Community,

The greasier - the better. As a way to manage the difficulties of COVID-19, each Friday at central office, we try to offset our stress by ordering comfort food from a local establishment. One of the best options is Kelly’s Sea Level where one can indulge in juicy burgers with awesome tater tots or tackle a double order of death dogs - twin hot dogs smothered in chili. For the more health-conscious, some lettuce and tomato can be added to the burger. This has certainly been an effective intervention and a good way to wrap up a week. I hope you are finding effective ways to manage the stress of COVID-19 and the challenges that we are all facing.

Since my update last week, we have had six new cases in the District: four at Rye High School, one at Midland School, and one at Rye Middle School. None of the cases are a result of in-school spread. The majority of the cases can be traced back to what some are calling “Living Room Spread,” people gathering together without masks or social distancing.  I recognize that we are all starved for social interaction, but it’s incredibly frustrating to so many of our families and staff to have to shut down school buildings and quarantine so many people because of risky behavior outside of the schools. 

Microcluster Zone Testing and Closure Metrics 

Last Friday, the NYS Department of Health released updated guidance about COVID-19 testing requirements for schools in designated microcluster zones: 

  • For schools in an orange zone, a total of 20% of students, faculty, and staff who are on-site must be tested for COVID-19 over the one-month period following the zone designation. The testing must be proportionately spread across the month, with 10% of the population tested bi-weekly. For the RCSD, this amounts to 535 students and 106 staff 
  • For schools in a red zone, a total of 30% of students, faculty, and staff who are on-site must be tested for COVID-19 over the one-month period following the zone designation. The testing must be spread proportionately over the month, with 15% tested bi-weekly. For the RCSD, this amounts to 802 students and 159 staff 
  • For suburban schools in either an orange or red zone, if the random sampling generates nine or more positive cases in any school, or if for a sample size of more than 300 weekly tests achieves a positivity rate of 3%, then the school must close

COVID-19 Testing Update

Based on these new testing requirements, the District is working to finalize an agreement with a testing partner to assist us should Rye be designated a red zone. I anticipate that I will be able to provide an update to the Board of Education on Tuesday night, and we hope to have a signed contract shortly thereafter. We are grateful for all of the suggestions from the community in addressing the testing issues, and I am pleased to share that our potential partner was suggested by one of our families. 

Reopening Focus Groups and Survey

The District has almost completed 16 focus groups with parents, teachers, and high school students regarding hybrid learning and reopening. Thank you to all who have taken the time to participate; we have heard some incredibly helpful suggestions and feedback. This week, we distributed a survey to solicit parent opinions on a broader scale. To access the survey from the District website, please click here.

CDC Quarantine Recommendations

As many of you know, the CDC changed its recommendation regarding the duration of quarantine from 14 to 10 days. Thus far, the New York State Department of Health has not adopted these recommendations, so the District must continue to abide by the 14-day rule.

Open Topics Forum

On November 10, the District held its bi-annual Open Topics Forum. This year, the event was virtual. Participants were asked to submit questions in advance, and the Board reviewed and discussed them. To watch the video, click here and begin watching at 1:16.  The administration has published answers to those questions and posted them on the website here. If community members have additional questions or have more feedback to give, we encourage you to use the email address or feel free to email me directly at

Have a good weekend and stay well.


Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools