District provides truth about back-to-school rules
District provides truth about back-to-school rules
Posted: Monday August 23rd, 2021 6:16 PM
School administrators presented outline plans for the Scarsdale schools to open next week at the August 19 school board meeting. They told parents, “While the Delta variant remains a barrier, we hope vaccinations and risk mitigation efforts will help us open school in a more traditional way.”
The plan details all aspects of the school program and can be reviewed here:
However, here are some of the highlights:
Deputy Superintendent Eric Rauschenbach provided current COVID measures as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.
Here are the statistics as of August 19, 2021:
-The positivity rate was 3.8% in Westchester and the trend is slowly increasing
-The seven-day total for cases per 100,000 population is 139.
-The infection rate was 1.16 per person.
-Westchester County is a high transmission area. Although the positivity rate is low, the seven-day rate at 139 puts the county at the highest level.
-75% of those over 12 are fully vaccinated and 81% have received at least one dose
Rauschenbach explained that NYS Department of Health guidelines are no longer in place, so Scarsdale schools will use CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. The Westchester County Health Department may adjust quarantine guidelines and contact tracing rules. He said: “All councils recognize the value of live in-person teaching.”
Dr. Hagerman said the district no longer has to provide testing data to the state. On vaccines, he said, “We are monitoring the vaccination status of our faculty and will ask parents about the vaccination status of their children.”
He continued: “We will be fully open to all students from Wednesday September 1, 2021 and we are celebrating a return to school as we wish. We will return to standards for the most part. We do not plan to offer blended or distance learning unless we have to.
Rauschenbach continued, “The priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, well-being and social emotional well-being, risk mitigation efforts and providing such a normal schedule and as many such activities as possible under the circumstances. There will certainly be restrictions on overnight travel. We will do everything we can safely. As the situation improves, we hope to lift the restrictions.
Rauschenbach said, “What assessments do we need to support our students? We will continue to partner with Scarsdale Family Counseling and outside consultants as needed. Each building has psychologists and we have two district psychologists and retirees who are ready to step in if needed. This summer we organized courses on positive psychology as part of professional development. We are ready to receive our students and to understand where they are and to intervene if necessary.
Masks will be universally mandatory indoors for all individuals, regardless of their vaccination status. Outdoor masking is optional, but masks are recommended for those who are unvaccinated and for large gatherings like grade school graduations and picnics. Masks will be mandatory at school board meetings.
The district will continue to provide sanitizing and hand washing opportunities and has a stockpile of masks and gloves for those who need them. They will provide PCR testing to faculty and staff and outside providers in regular contact with students. Schools cannot require students to be vaccinated, but they strongly recommend that parents provide information about student vaccinations.
They are sending a vaccination status survey to parents of children 13 and older and the county will provide free testing to school districts for K-12 students.
The CDC recommends 3 feet of social distancing at school and the district will maintain 3 feet of distance in regular classrooms. During some special activities such as the band and the choir, a greater distance will be necessary. Music lessons may have to be divided into small groups and they cannot have musical performances.
Laboratory activities will resume and equipment will be cleaned between uses.
School libraries will be open.
Physical education will take place outside for as long as possible.
Lunch will be served in traditional and non-traditional settings. Tents will be used at the college. Elementary catering will be offered as pre-ordered meal packages and in middle and high schools there will be hot and cold meal options.
Students will be asked to wash their hands before and after lunch. Barriers will not be used, but students will be six feet apart at lunch when masks are removed. Schools will use all available spaces to spread out children during lunch.
Academic intervention services are fully in place. Students at risk of not meeting state learning standards will be assessed and provided with additional services as needed.
Sporting Director Ray Pappalardi said: “We are happy to offer all sports during their traditional seasons. The good news is that 95% of student-athletes are vaccinated. The 29 college athletes who are not vaccinated will be tested weekly. All sports will practice and compete during their traditional seasons using guidance and there will be no daily screenings. However, symptomatic students must stay home and test negative to return. Face masks must be worn indoors and on buses, but they will not be necessary for cheerleaders during stunting and somersaults.
For outdoor sports, masks are not mandatory, however those who are not vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask.
Spectators may be asked to distance three feet or more. The school will be using the locker rooms and allowing indoor teams access, but they will not be planning any overnight trips.
When there is a positive case, the district will follow its protocol. Games will be broadcast live and both home and away spectators will be allowed.
Cleaning and ventilation
Deputy Superintendent Stuart Mattey reviewed cleaning and ventilation plans and said enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols from last year would continue. There will be daily cleaning and wiping with Viking Pure water and the focus will be on elementary schools due to the vaccination status of younger students.
About the ventilation, he said, all the ventilation has been improved as much as possible. He said we will allow fans and window air conditioners and windows will remain open as much as possible.
Bus transport will return to normal and students and staff will be masked on buses with windows open as much as possible. Buses will board from back to front and will be cleaned and sanitized daily. There is an increase in the use of buses, which will help reduce car traffic around the schools. Also, no left turns will be allowed on Weaver Street from Quaker Ridge School, which should reduce traffic.
Students or staff who exhibit symptoms of COVID 19 should stay home. To return to school, they must have a negative test or the authorization of their doctor. Nurses will follow up on absences.
The new quarantine rules are complex and summarized in the table below:
If students are quarantined, they will no longer have remote access to their classes. The district is in talks with the STA (teachers union) on how to provide instruction to quarantined students.
In order to protect the school community, restrictions will be placed on visitors during teaching hours. All visitors will be checked and must wear masks. For extracurricular activities and PTA activities organized at school, masks will be required. Outside entities may request the use of schools but will need to follow district rules.
Watch the full presentation here:
Dr. Hagerman provided the following district registration numbers. Overall, the district is down 127 students from projections, in part due to families moving out-of-state and overseas. More information on trends will be provided at the next meeting.
Here are the counts by school:
The total projection for the five elementary schools was 2,052 and there are now 1,982 enrolled, down from 70 students.
Edgewood has 11 fewer students than expected
Fox Meadow has 31f more students than expected
Greenacres has 25 more students than expected
Heathcote has 12 less than expected
Quaker Ridge is down 41 students from projection
Enrollment at Scarsdale Middle School is 1,131, down 19 students from the projection of 1,150.
Scarsdale High School has 1,477 students enrolled, down 38 students from the projection of 1,515.
Community Reading: “The person you want to be” by Dolly Chough
Board member Bob Klein said the faculty read Dolly Chugh’s “The Person You Want to Be, How Good People Fight Prejudice” and encouraged the community to read the book. He said: ‘It’s an easy read and shows the biases in our society and the extent to which your past informs your unconscious biases. We can learn more about ourselves and others by reading this book.
Moseley will retire in August 2022
Dr. Hagerman announced that Rachel Moseley, Scarsdale School District‘s Director of Data Technology and Chief Information Officer, will be retiring in August 2022. He said Rachel has been here since 2013 and called her ” phenomenal part of my team and the neighborhood and touched so many lives. In her retirement letter, she said, “It was a privilege to work with all units” and “she cherished building, leading and mentoring in her department.” She spoke of the “joy I found working with everyone” and plans to spend time with her family and pursue her varied and interesting hobbies.”