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RCSD Community Update: 2/12/21

February 12, 2021

Dear RCSD Community,

At most school breaks, we are all usually exhausted and ready for some downtime. I am not sure how to elucidate the feeling that many of us have today as we head off for mid-winter break; COVID-fatigued, screen glazed, or just plain done with all the extraordinary challenges we have been facing for nearly a year. In my community forums this week, I have spoken of the herculean efforts that our faculty, staff, and administration have made over these past months attempting to recreate education, engage children, and deliver the best possible educational program in incredibly challenging circumstances. I am grateful for all that our team has done in the face of such adversity. 

Likewise, parents in the age of COVID have put forth a heroic effort as they now serve as playmates, teachers, and doctors, alongside shouldering their regular duties of parenting and trying to sustain careers. I am grateful for our parents and the partnership that is so important to the success of our schools. I hope that all of us, be we parents, teachers, or staff, can find a way to relax a bit and enjoy the coming days.  I wish you an enjoyable week, either in front of a fireplace, napping in the middle of the day, or just having a much-needed breathing spell with family. 

Travel Quarantine Requirements

As we begin mid-winter recess, I want to remind the school community that the New York State travel requirements are still very much in effect. If you or your students travel outside of the contiguous states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Vermont) for more than 24 hours, then the State requires a negative PCR (NOT rapid) test 72 hours before returning to the state, followed by a 10-day mandatory quarantine, unless you/your student quarantine and then take a second PCR test on the fourth day after returning to New York in order to exit quarantine. These are not the school district’s rules; they are the State’s requirements and we are legally obligated to abide by them.  These rules also apply to countries with a CDC level 2 or higher rating. Please adhere to the travel guidelines in order to prevent future mass quarantines and school closures.

CDC News

Fellow superintendents, school districts, educators, and parents across the country were eagerly anticipating this afternoon’s long-awaited joint CDC and U.S. Department of Education press conference on “new science-based resources and tools to help schools safely reopen and stay open for in-person learning.”  During the press conference, the CDC posted a lengthy guidance document outlining “layered mitigation strategies” for protection that schools should use. We will take a deep dive into the document over the next few days, but in summary, the CDC is recommending:

 

  • Universal and correct use of masks in schools by students, faculty, and staff
  • Physical distancing
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities
  • Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine in collaboration with the health department

 

We are hopeful that the CDC’s new guidance will quickly be adopted by the New York State Department of Health and that clear guidelines are subsequently issued for schools. I will keep the community posted.

The CDC has said it will make a transcript of the press conference available on its website here: https://www.cdc.gov/media/

Case Update

The District has had six cases of COVID-19 since my last update: two at Rye High School, and one each at RMS, Midland, Milton, and Osborn Schools. Unfortunately, four of the cases resulted in quarantines.  The number of individuals required to quarantine remains low due to the County Department of Health’s revised quarantine requirements. We still have not seen an instance of transmission within the schools.

Surveillance Testing

Thank you to the many of you who have volunteered to be tested/have your students tested. The RCSD is not offering surveillance testing this Monday as it is a federal holiday and the District offices are closed. We will resume testing on Monday, February 22. Please make every effort to come to the testing appointments with completed forms in hand. This will get you in and out in the shortest possible time.

We have begun asking student-athletes engaged in high-risk sports to participate in the testing. The District thinks this is the best way to ensure the health and safety of the entire school community, as well as to ensure the athletes will be able to experience a full season.

I will not be sending a community update next Friday the 19th unless we receive some new information from either the CDC, the New York State Department of Health, or the New York State Department of Education.

Have a wonderful mid-winter recess. We look forward to seeing everyone back in school - in-person or remotely - on Monday, February 22.

Happy Lunar New Year - Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Sincerely,

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools