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RCSD Community Update: 1/22/21

January 22, 2021

Dear RCSD Community,

I am continually impressed by our students and their incredible sense of community as well as their desire to help others. A group of industrious Rye High School students has been working closely with our High School administrative team to develop a plan to support seniors in our community with scheduling appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine. If you needed some inspiration or something to brighten your day - this is it. Kudos, kids!

Surveillance Testing

At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, the Board agreed that the District should begin surveillance testing of the school community as soon as possible. Beginning next Monday, February 1, we will begin offering free non-invasive nasal swab COVID-19 testing to RCSD students, faculty, and staff on a voluntary basis.  We will seek to test 5% of the in-school population per week to ensure we have enough test kits for the remainder of the school year. We will provide detailed testing information to the community next week.

Case/Quarantine and RMS Closure Update

Unfortunately, our luck with cases has not held. We have seen 12 cases over the past week: 6 at RMS, 3 at RHS, 2 at Milton, 1 at Osborn, and 1 at Midland School (1 individual was present at both Milton and Osborn Schools).  Fortunately, the new quarantine guidelines are keeping the number of individuals required to quarantine low. The glaring exception was at the Middle School, where a case on Tuesday resulted in the school going fully remote for the remainder of the week. As I indicated to RMS parents in a letter notifying them of the closure, we cannot safely open a school without a certain number of adults physically present in the building. At the Middle School, we already had a number of faculty and staff absent due to prior exposures, cases, and illness. The Tuesday case pushed us right over the edge. Due to the shortage of substitute teachers, I had no choice but to move the school to fully-remote instruction. Thankfully, we will return to in-person classes on Monday. Believe me when I say that I am as frustrated as you are by these circumstances. We are certainly not the only area school district that is facing intermittent closures, not that it’s any consolation!

Mid-Year Changes Community Forums

After reviewing the reopening survey results and focus group comments, the District is exploring possible changes in our programming for the spring. While the surge of COVID cases does not allow us to move forward just yet, we are working toward potential modifications that may include, but are not limited to:

  • Modifying Wednesday schedules for grades K-12
  • Modifying mid-day cleaning protocols at elementary schools
  • Adding elementary recess options

I’ll be holding several mid-year community virtual forums to get some parent feedback on these potential changes. Date and time information for the sessions are below. Login information will be provided next week.

  • Tuesday, February 9, at 7:00 PM
  • Wednesday, February 10, at 9:30 AM
  • Thursday, February 11, at 1:00 PM
  • Friday, February 12, at 3:00 PM

It is important to keep in mind that New York State has not made changes to the current safety and 6-foot distancing requirements. With that in mind, any potential changes must follow the current guidance. If there are changes to the guidance, we will certainly incorporate the changes into our plans. 

Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force

The Race, Inclusivity and Community task force has a new section on the District website. From the homepage, navigate to the red bar in the middle of the page. Then pull down the “About Us” tab until you see the words “Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force.” A direct link to the section is here.  The area has information about the reasons for the creation of the task force, its mission, communications about the task force, a list of task force volunteers, and personal quotes from task force members about why they volunteered to join in this important work. Moving forward, all task force information and communications will be stored in this area for easy access by the community. 

Have a good weekend.

Sincerely,

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools