Rye City School District Is Ready for the New School Year
The Rye City School District is looking forward to welcoming over 3,100 students back to school on Tuesday, September 8. The District will begin the year in what is known as a “hybrid” model: students will spend part of the week in school receiving instruction, and part of the week working remotely with a blend of live instruction and independent work and study. The hybrid model is necessary to achieve the social distancing required by New York State. Families are also given the option to study completely remote for the first semester.
Promoting Health and Safety
To keep students, their families, faculty, and staff safe, the District has been working over the summer to modify its operations and physical spaces to meet new health and safety requirements. For example, since research suggests that ventilation is critical for preventing the spread of COVID-19, the District proactively allocated over $100,000 to install MERV-13 rated filters in the newer fresh air ventilation systems, which cover 85 percent of the school buildings. For the other classrooms, it retrofitted the remaining individual HEPA standalone filtration units. PTOs were reported to be covering about half of the over $200,000 total cost of filtration improvements. Outdoor spaces for classroom use will remain in use, as long as weather conditions allow.
The District has purchased 70,000 disposable masks for students/staff and personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, gowns, and face shields, for faculty and nursing staff, and temporal scanners for temperature-taking when needed at school entrances. They have procured electrostatic sprayers and solution to facilitate rapid sanitizing of classroom and building surfaces for each building. As a result, they will be able to clean every classroom once per day.
Handwashing stations and sanitizer dispensers have been installed in multiple locations in every building in the District and students will be reminded to wash their hands repeatedly. At the elementary schools, handwashing breaks will be built into the schedule.
Halving the number of students in school buildings at any given time will allow the District to maintain the six and sometimes 12 feet (depending on the activity) of social distance required by the State. Classroom and cafeteria seating has been spaced at six feet apart in every school in the District. Stairwells and hallways have taped arrows on the floor to indicate directional travel designed to maximize social distancing. Schedules have been altered so that students move around the buildings as little as possible with the goal of minimizing hallway time. The District is currently purchasing polycarbonate dividers to provide an additional layer of in-classroom protection for both teachers and students.
Hardware and Software Purchases
The District will provide every student in grades 2-8 with a Chromebook for use in school and at home. They would like to extend this program to students in grades K-2 and are working with the Rye Fund for Education to purchase the additional Chromebooks needed to make this a reality. Students at the High School will bring their own devices from home.
Audiovisual and Sound Upgrades
In preparation for part- or full-time remote learning, the District has ordered web cameras for every Middle and High School classroom to allow for live-streaming of instruction. Live-streaming typically isn’t ideal for elementary school–age children given their developmental stage and the way teachers interact with students. The District’s goal is to provide elementary students with as much hands-on learning as possible.
And because hearing a teacher through a mask isn’t ideal, the District is looking to purchase over 300 individual, portable microphones and speakers to provide better audio quality for students learning in classrooms or from home.
Summer Capital Project Work
Over the summer, the District upgraded the electrical system and renovated nine student bathrooms in the High School/Middle School building. The Middle School gym lighting upgrade has been completed. At Midland School, the north field has been under construction for much of the summer; it will not be ready for use until the end of September. The turf field in Nugent Stadium is currently on schedule to be completed by the end of September.
New word study programs will be implemented in all elementary schools beginning this fall. The Teachers College Phonics program will be used in grades K-2. A new, digital version of Words Their Way will be used in grades 3-5. In order to familiarize themselves with these programs, many elementary school teachers participated in summer institutes.
To better support and identify children with dyslexia and reading difficulties, a team of teachers and administrators participated in week-long training using an Orton-Gillingham–based approach at Haskins Laboratories in New Haven.
<<Rye Middle School>>
Two new 6th–grade courses will be offered in September: General Music and Habits of Mind, a study skills course. General Music is an elective that students may choose rather than chorus, band, or orchestra. All students will take Habits of Mind to provide them with the skills needed to be successful learners.
<<Rye High School>>
Beginning in September, Rye High School will launch an alternative half-day program for juniors and seniors called The Academy at Rye High School. It will be based in a newly created collaborative space on the third floor of the High School, which replaces the Rye School of Leadership formerly housed in the stone house at Midland School.
All students will participate in an advisory program focused on social and emotional learning. Among the courses developed for the first year are:
- “The Great American Experiment” (Grade 11 Social Studies and English Humanities)
- “Power & Politics” (Grade 12 participation in Government, Speech and Debate)
- “Economics & Ethics” (Grade 12 Economics and Philosophy)
- “Sustainable Solutions” (Integrated Math and Science)
- “Children’s Literature (elective for 11th and 12th graders)
- Contemporary Mathematics
<New High School Courses>
Additional new courses debuting at the High School this fall include “Children’s Literature” (an elective for 11th and 12th graders) and “Contemporary Mathematics,” a class that blends problem solving, finance and mathematical modelling.
Following the New York State Public High School Athletic Association guidelines, fall sports are scheduled to begin September 21. Check the Reopening section of the District’s website for athletic updates.
Where to Find Out More
For those community members interested in learning more, the Rye City School District has posted an 81-page plan for reopening of schools as required by the State on the District’s website, www.ryeschools.org. It will be updated as more information becomes available, new guidelines are released, and as decisions are made about school reopening or closing.