Rye Schools Set to Fully Reopen Starting March 1
By Peter Jovanovich
At the February 2 Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Eric Byrne presented his plan for the full reopening of Rye City schools.
Following Governor Cuomo’s announcement that local schools have the authority to reopen, in consultation with teacher’s unions, Dr. Byrne proposed the following schedule:
March 1: Kindergarten and first grade
March 8: Second through eighth grades; all Rye Middle School Special Education students
March 15: Ninth and tenth grades; all Rye High School Special Education students
March 22: Eleventh and twelfth grades.
In support of this plan, Dr. Byrne noted that the CDC released a report on January 26 in support of schools reopening with proper mitigation plans in place. Further, The American Academy of Pediatrics updated their school guidance, recommending 3 to 6 feet for social distancing. Finally, Dr. Byrne cited research from Harvard University which recommends schools focus on air quality, carry out tests for compressed air and that the risk of contamination from surfaces is minimal.
Once schools reopen, parents will still have the option to enroll their children in fully remote learning.
The safety measures include: face masks must be worn at all times, and social distancing will be modified to a range of 3 to 6 feet. Air purification units and MERV-13 filters have been installed and are operating in all spaces in the classrooms.
As to why the District is waiting until March to reopen, Dr. Byrne cited a number of factors: additional teaching staff may need to be hired to support remote learning; time for teachers and staff to be vaccinated; furniture with desk shields needs to be assembled; and Mid-Winter break is February 15-19. With the prospect of many families traveling during the break, it’s best to limit exposures and mass quarantines until March 1.
In a statement February 3, Superintendent Byrne said, “Yesterday, we started a discussion in our community with teachers, staff, and parents about moving toward a full reopening of our schools for full-time, in-person teaching and learning. We have a great deal of information to gather and steps we need to take in order to move forward with our proposed plan. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be meeting with our community to further discuss the specifics of the proposal and listen to feedback. The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff are of the utmost importance as we move forward.”