With the distractions and stress related to the global coronavirus epidemic, it is sometimes hard to think it was only this past June when we saw all the activity in Rye related to Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride.
Some of the “on the ground” outcomes of that activity have been the local Rye Police Review Committee and the Rye Schools Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force that kicked off in July. Schools boss Eric Byrne gave a window into the later effort in a community update Friday afternoon.
“(The work is an) effort to help the community accept that racist acts have taken place in our schools and to create the structures and changes necessary to eradicate racism and build an equitable, inclusive community,” Byrne said in the update, reporting a process known as an “equity audit” is underway.
“This work is not part of some radical effort (as has been portrayed by local media) but is instead an effort to help the community accept that racist acts have taken place in our schools and to create the structures and changes necessary to eradicate racism and build an equitable, inclusive community,” continued Byrne. We have been assured the reference to “local media” is not MyRye.com but a local newspaper.
The complete notice – that also includes updates about COVID and the athletic competitions finally getting underway, is below:
From: Eric Byrne
Date: Fri, Oct 23, 2020
Subject: RCSD Community Update
To: Rye City School District Recipients
Dear Rye Community,
This week was marked by the return of in-person classes at Rye High School, the launch of intramural sports at Rye Middle School, the kickoff of additional remote learning support for students at the three elementary schools, and continuing COVID-19-related guidance challenges. Fortunately, many of our students, staff, and faculty who were in quarantine are now back to school and regular activities.
Over the summer, the District formed a task force charged with addressing issues of racism and exclusion within the Rye City Schools. The Race, Inclusivity and Community Task Force is composed of volunteer representatives from across the Rye community. Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members are working to identify what needs to change in our school community in order to ensure equitable, inclusive experiences for all who walk through the doors of our schools. This work is not part of some radical effort (as has been portrayed by local media) but is instead an effort to help the community accept that racist acts have taken place in our schools and to create the structures and changes necessary to eradicate racism and build an equitable, inclusive community. The task force is collaborating with the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools and other experts in the field to conduct a comprehensive equity audit that will provide us with the necessary knowledge about where we fall short. They will also assist us as we work to build culturally-responsive education and fulfill our responsibilities by providing the kind of educational experience for our students outlined in the NY State Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. The Metro Center is a highly-regarded research institute that works with schools, school systems, and universities across the country to assist in this important work. In Westchester alone, the Metro Center has supported and continues to work with the Chappaqua, Dobbs Ferry, Katonah-Lewisboro, Ossining, and White Plains school districts.
There have been recent developments in COVID-19 guidance. NY State has announced that it is evaluating how to manage the travel advisory list. Recently, Connecticut and New Jersey have reached the data point that would make them states requiring quarantine. The Governor has announced that neither state will be added to the list, but now recommends only essential travel to those states. While this situation does not impact our schools, please be mindful of the mandatory quarantine rules when traveling to any of the other designated COVID-19 “hot spots.”
This week the CDC updated guidance on what constitutes exposure to COVID-19. Prior to this week’s change, close contact had been defined as 15 minutes within 6 feet of an individual who is COVID-positive. Now, the CDC has revised that to be 15 cumulative minutes rather than a 15-minute block of time. This new guidance could lead to more people being required to quarantine, however, the State has not yet changed guidance for schools. We will certainly continue to follow the required guidance in our efforts to keep everyone in our schools safe.
On a happier note, our student-athletes had a very successful week in both high school and middle school contests. So far this season, varsity boys soccer is 4-0-1, varsity girls soccer is 4-0, and varsity field hockey is 3-0. The boys and girls cross country team had their first meet yesterday with Eastchester and Pelham, and the girls varsity tennis team has its first home match today after winning their season opener 7-0 against Edgemont yesterday. I know there has been some concern expressed by the community about sports and COVID-19 transmission; I want to assure everyone that the District is following strict guidelines at practices and contests, including mask-wearing and social distancing by both players and coaches.
October is full of recognitions – be it for custodians, school principals, or Board of Education members. I’d like to add one more: to all the parents who are supporting their children’s learning at home. We know it isn’t easy and we salute and thank you.
Eric Byrne, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools