New Rochelle schools to go remote as COVID rises



NEW ROCHELLE, NY – The New Rochelle City School District has become the last in Westchester County to temporarily switch to distance education rather than in-person classes, when students return from break on Monday.

In a letter to the families, Superintendent Jonathan Raymond said the district would not resume face-to-face classes until at least January 10.

“We came to this decision after careful deliberation over the past few days, given local conditions,” Raymond wrote in the letter released at the end of New Years Eve. “Our decision is designed to protect health, the safety and well-being of our students, teachers and staff. COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise sharply and rapidly, and the speed of transmission of highly contagious COVID variants is another alarming element. component of this major public health crisis. Infection and transmission rates have exceeded levels seen at the height of the pandemic last year.

Raymond said that in addition to all instructions transferred to virtual classrooms, all extracurricular activities, including sports, will be halted.

This marks a change from the district’s position that face-to-face classes could be safely held after the break and an insistence, no later than Wednesday, that classes resume safely as scheduled on Monday.

“New York State Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Department of Health urge schools to reopen as scheduled on Monday, January 3, 2022,” Raymond wrote in the December 29 letter. The City School District of New Rochelle is monitoring updates from our state’s leaders and intends to reopen for in-person education on Monday. We believe in-person learning provides students with a vital sense of identity. and belonging, and helps students advance academically, socially and emotionally. “

The full text of Raymond’s letter of December 31 announcing the decision to keep the students at home for the near future can be read below:

I hope your vacation has been a happy, safe and healthy one. I am writing to announce that the New Rochelle City School District is switching to virtual learning for one week starting this Monday, January 3, 2022. Our intention is to reopen our school buildings for in-person instruction on Monday, January 10 2022..

We arrived at this decision after much deliberation over the past few days, given local conditions. Our decision is designed to protect the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise sharply and rapidly, and the speed of transmission of highly contagious COVID-19 variants is another alarming element in this significant public health crisis. Infection and transmission rates have exceeded levels seen at the height of the pandemic last year.

The shift to virtual learning will impact students, teachers, school administrators, school administrative / office staff, and school nurses. This will not affect certain other groups of employees in the district, such as facility / guard and security staff, as well as central office employees and administrators, all of whom should report to work normally.

The move to virtual learning also gives the school district and our community an important time to put in place additional guarantees and programs:

  • The school district will soon receive a large shipment of rapid-results COVID-19 tests, provided by New York State. The school district will use these rapid-result tests to develop its Test-To-Stay program and ensure that as many students stay in school as possible. The Test-To-Stay program is a strategy that enables asymptomatic, unvaccinated close contacts in schools (for example, students, teachers, and school staff) to avoid exclusion from school while they are asymptomatic (but no further restrictions required from quarantine) by testing negative by antigen testing for a period of seven days following exposure. To be eligible for the Test-To-Stay program, the exhibition must have taken place in a school setting. Additional details on how to participate will be shared soon.
  • The community is encouraged to take a COVID test if they are potentially exposed or if exposure is confirmed. Westchester County offers free testing at Westchester County Center in White Plains. To make an appointment, visit https://health.westchestergov.com
  • Students in all grades are urged to enroll in the school district’s weekly COVID-19 saliva testing program. Participation is mandatory for students who practice athletics in middle and high school, as well as some high-risk extracurricular activities. Details: https://conta.cc/3yPdCUN

The shift from the school district to virtual learning has several ramifications for the week of January 3, 2022 to January 7, 2022:

  • Before the holidays, students were asked to take their Chromebooks home. If you have any questions about accessing virtual learning, please contact your teacher or the school district’s CTO, Dr. Anastasia Tzortzatos, [email protected]
  • Extracurricular activities, including sports, will not be organized.
  • Transportation will be provided for students attending private and parish schools, students attending out-of-district schools, as well as those attending BOCES programs. Students in BOCES programs will be transported to and from New Rochelle high school. The hours are unchanged.
  • District special education students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will participate in virtual learning, including related services. Transportation will be provided for special education students attending schools outside the district.
  • Students attending post-secondary institutions in person will continue to do so.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19 via a lab test or at home, over the counter, please notify the nurse’s office at your child’s school. Your child will be excluded from in-person school attendance for 10 days following the first symptom (if symptomatic) or the date of the test (if asymptomatic).

Your school district understands that virtual learning is not ideal for some families. We continue to believe that in-person learning provides students with a vital sense of identity and belonging while helping students advance academically, socially and emotionally. We look forward to safely reopening our buildings and thank everyone in our community for your resilience, patience and understanding as we move through this unprecedented time in our history.

Please protect your family and our community by using COVID protection techniques including wearing masks, social distancing, immunizations, and receiving reminders if eligible. To learn more about school district COVID-19 protocols, please visit our website, nred.org. Click on COVID Resource Center at the top right. Additionally, an email address, [email protected], has been established to answer COVID security questions. An answer will be provided as soon as possible.

We will continue to monitor the situation and make the best decisions for the health and safety of
students, faculty and staff. Updates will be provided as needed, and we look forward to working with you to provide a quality education for our children. Thank you for your understanding and your patience in receiving this news on a statutory holiday weekend. Best wishes for the New Year.

Truly,

Jonathan P. Raymond

Superintendent


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