Parents Strongly Support District’s Back-to-School Plan
By Peter Jovanovich
At the Rye City School District’s February 2 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne laid out his school reopening plan. Parents and teachers then had the opportunity to share their views on the plan, which calls for a staged reopening of full-day instruction between March 1 and 22.
Byrne and Board President Jennifer Boyle began the discussion by “acknowledging the concerns and fears of faculty and staff regarding potential health risks.” Nevertheless, the Board was unanimous in its support of the reopening plan.
The interest of parents in the subject was so great that it maxed out online participation. (Google Meet only handles 250 participants, so many were turned away from hearing and seeing the meeting.)
Based on a survey sent out to parents in the District to gauge their interest in a reopening plan this school year, parents want their children back in school full time. The survey results were released by Dr. Byrne February 3. Close to 1,900 parents responded to the survey “with 92% of parents/guardians in favor of full-time, in-person school.”
Teachers in the District, however, have trepidations about returning. Speaking for the Rye Teachers Association, second-grade teacher Michelle Ring stated: “We are concerned that the plan is being rushed.” She quoted surveys of Rye teachers to quantify their significant “discomfort” with Governor’s Cuomo’s plans and those of the District. The union “believes not enough time has been allowed to properly build a plan.” Further, she questioned the safety of the new distancing guidelines (from 6 to 3 feet). “We are scared,” she said in closing.
Mark McWilliams, who teaches World Language and is president of the union, said he “was concerned that we need more time to set a plan in place. We just want to make sure appropriate steps are taken and not rushed.” Further, he noted, “It’s important to give consideration to teachers who have other health risks such as the immunocompromised.”
As part of the reopening plan, the District began its COVID surveillance testing program February 9. In a statement to parents, Dr. Byrne said, “Surveillance testing is a critical component of our reopening plan.” The required forms can be found on the District’s website, ryeschools.org. Go to the home page and click the important messages (!) box on lower right.
The complete statement of the Rye Teachers Association: BOE Meeting Notes – Google Docs