RCSD Community Update: 1/28/22

Dear RCSD Community,

I’m going to start with the good news: our case numbers are down dramatically. For the first time in I don’t even know how long, we had zero positive COVID cases reported to us or identified through our surveillance testing program on Wednesday. Last night we had just five. This is cause for celebration indeed! As a result, we are going to begin reporting cases every other night during the week rather than every night, with the eventual goal of ceasing the notifications completely and instead asking community members to use the online New York State dashboard to view case numbers. Your email inboxes will thank me.

Current Status of Mask Mandate

A New York State appeals court began hearing oral arguments about the Governor's indoor mask mandate this morning. No one knows how long this court case will take. I’ve heard estimates of days to weeks. The stay order issued on Tuesday means that for now, the mask mandate for schools stands. The current executive order is in place through February 21. Governor Hochul has stated that she will make a decision as to whether or not to extend the executive order before the end of January (Monday). 

I think it is clear that a change is in the offing, sooner or later, and that we should be prepared for when it does. On Tuesday, we heard some sporadic reports of mask-shaming from both sides - directed at those wearing or not wearing a mask. I want to make it clear that this will not be tolerated in our schools. The decision to wear - or not wear - a mask will be up to families and to individual adults. No one must be made to feel uncomfortable for these very personal decisions.

Government Advocacy re Masks in Schools and Mental Health Support

As you may know, I have been advocating that the state adopt a mask metric based on COVID transmission levels that is sensible, science-based, and provides clarity to individual communities. I have written several letters to Governor Hochul and NYS DOH Commissioner Bassett to this effect. 

Later today, we will launch an advocacy campaign in partnership with our neighbors in Harrison. The focus of this campaign is for NYS to adopt a clear metric for determining masking requirements moving forward and to provide mental health support for students as well as continued resources for school-based COVID testing. Our schools and communities need clear metrics and sensible guidance. Please consider adding your voice to ours. Be on the lookout for a detailed message later this afternoon.

COVID-19 Test Kit Distributions

We just received another 1,900 iHealth nasal swab COVID tests from the State. We will hold two more drive-up test kit distribution events next week:

  • Monday, January 31, from  9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. in the Midland School driveway
  • Tuesday, February 1, from  5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. at the Central Administration Building at 555 Theodore Fremd Avenue (look for the RCSD signs)

If you are not able to pick up tests at either event, please reach out to the school nurse at your student’s school(s) or stop by the District's offices at 555 Theodore Fremd Avenue during office hours of 8:30-5:00 p.m.

RCSD Social Media

We recognize that our parents, teachers, and staff (not to mention our students) increasingly like to get their news through social media versus emails, newsletters, and websites. As a result, we are creating social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. The name or handle for these accounts is “Rye City School District.” Please follow us on whichever channel(s) you like. We’ll be posting timely videos, photos, and short newsy items. We’re excited about this new way to keep in touch and we hope you are, too.

Snurricane/Bomb Cyclone

The weather prognosticators are predicting that Westchester may be receiving anywhere from 8-14 inches of snow tonight into tomorrow. There are no scheduled sports games on campus, but we may have some practices canceled, so please be on the lookout for communications from coaches.

While you are hunkered down during tomorrow's snow, please enjoy a wonderful musical performance by some of our students. Wednesday night’s Winter Jazz Night featuring the RMS/RHS Jazz Band was recorded this year and can be viewed here. Throw a few logs on the fire, fill a mug with hot cocoa and enjoy the show!

Stay safe and enjoy the snow,

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools