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RCSD Community Update: 3/19/21

March 19, 2021

Dear RCSD Community,

This was a big week for the RCSD as we welcomed back to full-time, in-person learning our 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students on Monday, followed by our 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders on Wednesday.  On Monday the 22nd, we look forward to seeing our 9th and 10th graders smiling behind their masks.

A teacher shared with me that one of her students told her, “All day school is even better than going to Playland and getting to ride every single roller coaster!” As administrators, educators, and parents, these are the moments we live for!

Increasing Quarantine Numbers

And now some bad news to accompany the good: more kids in schools means more potential exposures and more quarantines. It may seem intuitive, but we have already begun to see this scenario play out. Within the first two days of our RMS students being back in school full-time, we had three cases that required quarantines in numbers we haven’t seen since late fall.

How You Can Help

None of the new positive cases were the result of in-school transmission. It is the interactions outside of school, at birthday parties, playdates, non-school sponsored sports, etc., that are driving these new cases. Please, please continue to reinforce to your students the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing outside of school. I fully understand that we are all sick and tired of this pandemic but continued vigilance is the only way we are going to be able to keep our schools open for full-time, in-person learning. 

Daily Health Screening

I must also ask that parents continue to be mindful of their children’s health. If your child is exhibiting even one symptom on the health checklist, please do not send him/her to school that day. It may be nothing, but it may well be something. We have a number of examples of parents who have sent children to school with just one complaint, only to have them begin feeling quite ill later on in the day, followed by a positive diagnosis, which in turn resulted in quarantines for schoolmates and teachers. Please be attentive when completing the daily health screening forms; these are meant to be a diagnostic tool rather than an irritating, bureaucratic hurdle.

Case Reporting

I am sure that by now you may be a bit tired of receiving numerous “A Message from the Superintendent” emails. The District is required by law to report each and every case to the school community.  If you no longer wish to receive these notifications, you may mark them as Junk/Clutter, and then check those folders at your convenience as this will also serve to block other District communications. Please note that we only send these notifications to parents/guardians associated with the particular school affected; to view a complete list of notifications, visit the COVID communications page on the District website. 

Since my last communication, the District has had 22 new cases: 14 at Rye High School, six at Rye Middle School, one at Milton, and one at Osborn. Four of the cases resulted in quarantines. We still have not seen an instance of COVID transmission within one of our schools.

Moving Outside

In the hopes that warmer temperatures will soon be here, the District is making preparations to hold more classes and lunch outdoors at all schools. At the HS/MS, the District has installed new outdoor WiFi access points to boost Internet access for students working outdoors behind the building. Two new tents will be installed this weekend behind the HS/MS. They will house Middle School engineering classes which are often large because they are a required course. At the elementary schools, with the exception of yesterday’s rainout and today’s very cold temperatures, students have been enjoying the new outdoor cafeterias. Thanks to generous donations from the RMS parent organization, outdoor furniture has arrived and will be in place at the Middle School in the coming days.

Travel Restrictions

The Westchester County Department of Health has not yet adopted the new regulations that Governor Cuomo announced regarding the elimination of quarantine after returning to New York from non-contiguous states. We will notify the community as soon as this becomes the rule of the land, and you are “free to move about the country,” as the Southwest Airlines ad puts it.

Anti-Asian Bias Concerns

Many of us have watched news coverage coming out of Atlanta and across the nation with rising concern about anti-Asian bias that has been exacerbated during COVID and has now resulted in a mass shooting event. There is no place for racially-motivated hate, xenophobia, or bias in the RCSD community. I stand in support with our neighbors, friends, and colleagues of Asian descent during this challenging time.

It is vital that we as adults model acceptance and compassion in our words and behavior and work to ensure our children see school as a safe and welcoming space for all. Below, please find links to resources parents, guardians, and teachers may find helpful for talking about these events with children. 

Vaccine Helpline

Our RHS student vaccine helpline is still in full swing and having great success securing appointments. If you, or anyone you know in the community, are age 60 or over or has one of the qualifying medical conditions and needs help obtaining a vaccine appointment, the students would be happy to help. The helpline operates Monday-Friday from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The number to call is 914-967-6100, ext. 6204. Callers should have their health insurance and contact information at the ready.

CDC Announcement

Earlier today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its physical distancing guidelines for schools from 6 feet to 3 feet, provided that students, faculty, and staff wear masks. The basis for the decision was a study published last week that showed “no significant difference” in rates of COVID-19 at Massachusetts public schools that had implemented social distancing rules of more than 3 feet apart compared to those with rules to stay more than 6 feet apart. While this has yet to be adopted by the Department of Health, we expect it soon will be.

Have a wonderful weekend. I am personally very ready for the gentle lamb portion of March. 


Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Anti-Bias Resource Links: