On Friday, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo said school districts across the country are permitted to open. He also said:
- in-person, remote, or a hybrid options are a local decision,
- school districts must post their remote learning plans, as well as plans for testing and tracing students and staff, on their websites
- districts must set dates for 3-5 discussion sessions with parents and the community, to be held by August 21, and at least one separate discussion session for teachers specifically
These sweeping requirements lack specificity and many are new. This is causing local Rye schools to go into another understandable tailspin in regards to their obligations and requirements. In a note to the community local schools boss Eric Bryne brough up any number of concerns including:
- Do the schools now need to be administering COVID-19 testing?
- Do parents (actually can parents decide for students) or staff have the option of being fully remote?
How is all this funded?
If you are in the schools business, the next three weeks in going to be painful.
Here are the notes are directives from the various parties. You might want to wash your hands before. And after…
From the Governor:
Develop, submit, and post a COVID-19 testing plan by August 14
Develop, submit, and post a contact tracing plan, also by August 14
Post an abbreviated remote learning plan
Hold three parent and one staff question and answer session prior to August 21
Items number one and two are new requirements and the District will work to develop those plans.
The Governor did not address several important points of inquiry:
1. Are school districts still required to follow the NYS DOH requirements?
The Governor made no mention of any updates to the New York State Department of Health (DOH) guidelines that the District used as a basis for creating its reopening plan, so the District is operating on the assumption that it must still follow those guidelines as originally directed on July 13. The guidelines specifically require social distancing.
2. What is meant by testing for COVID-19? Is the District expected to administer the tests?
3. Do parents or staff have the option of being fully remote?
4. How should school districts fund these initiatives?
We have reached out to the Governor, the Department of Health, and the State Education Department to ask for clarification on these points. At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, I will provide an update to the community on our reopening plan. I hope the District will receive answers to our questions prior to the meeting. I will also provide dates for the public information sessions on Tuesday.
Have a nice weekend.
Eric Byrne, Ed.D.”