Rye Schools’ Reopening Delayed
BY PETER JOVANOVICH
The Rye City School District announced this week a new schedule for opening its schools for full-time and in-person instruction. Under the new schedule, Kindergarten and first-grade classes begin March 10, Middle School on March 15, grades 2-5 on March 17, grades 9 and 10 March 22, and grades 11 and 12 on April 7.
The schedule includes a teacher and planning day preceding the first day of full-time instruction at each of the schools. The day before that, there will be a “fully asynchronous remote school day.” For example, for second through fifth graders, March 15 is a remote school day and March 16 a Professional Development Day.
The previously announced schedule spanned from March 1 to March 22. “The original presentation [February 2] included an aggressive timetable,” wrote Superintendent Dr. Byrne, in a letter to the school community. Byrne stated that this decision was made after consultation with faculty and staff, the NY State Department of Health, and community forums to get feedback from families.
On February 22, the Rye Teachers Association issued a letter to the Rye community explaining their position on the reopening plans. “To understand why the reopening schedule is slightly pushed back,” wrote Michelle Ring, the union’s Chief Negotiator, “it is important to understand why Rye teachers were not in favor of Dr. Byrne’s initial announcement . . . to reopen all Rye schools starting March 1.” Ms. Ring stated that the original plan would “challenge a successful system in unforeseen ways, and the hybrid model, while not ideal, has been working to keep everyone safe.”
She continued, “Under the initial proposal, Rye teachers were again being asked to ‘build a plane while flying it,’ and decisions were made without our input or frontline perspective.” The RTA official noted that there needs to be more time to adjust schedules, classrooms, instructional practices, etc.; that less that 50% of all teachers were fully vaccinated; and inclement weather gives little access to outdoor spaces reducing opportunities for social distancing.
According to the RTA Chief Negotiator, the union met with Dr. Byrne and elaborated its concerns. “We agreed the March 1 date was not enough time … to fully prepare for a successful and safe return.” Ms. Ring concluded: “We believe this new plan better addresses the needs of the community and students.”
The complete text of the RTA’s letter can be read here RTA-COMMUNITY2021