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Home Schools Rye Schools Board of Ed Schools Boss Asks for a "Reset"

Schools Boss Asks for a “Reset”

Rye Varsity Girls & Boys Basketball with Byrne and Latimer 03-04-2021

(PHOTO: Schools boss Eric Byrne, far left, with the Girls & Boys Varsity basketball teams on March 4th. County boss George Latimer is on the far right.)

Rye schools boss Eric Byrne sent a note to the school community Tuesday as teachers, administrators and staff get ready to welcome back kindergarten and first grade students on Wednesday, part of a multi-week reopening schedule. Heartfelt, Byrne acknowledges the stresses of the pandemic, including his own frustrations, and asks for a “reset” to deliver for our students all the excitement and all the hope that accompanies that “first day” in school.

Of course, the pandemic continues. But the reopening of school is a moment to remember what is good in each of us, our friends and family, and how stunningly fortunate each of us are to be connected to a place like Rye.

Byrne’s note is worth the read:

From: Eric Byrne
Date: Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 9:33 AM
Subject: RCSD School Reopening Reset
To: Rye City School District Recipients <recipients@ryeschools.parentlink.net>

Dear Rye Community,

Dr. Eric Byrne, Rye Schools 1
Dr. Eric Byrne (file photo)

March 12, 2020, was the last day that our school buildings were open for staff and students last spring. Schools were ordered closed due to the rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the State. The initial expectation was that we would be fully-remote for a two-week period, and then return to school. As you all know, two weeks became three months and led to a summer of wondering and planning as we awaited guidance from New York State about the 2020-2021 school year. Reflecting back on this past year, I am struck by the challenges we have faced, the resilience we displayed, and the incredible impact that COVID-19 has had on our community and on each and every one of our lives.

Last week, I read an article on CNN.com about how the pandemic has left many feeling a loss of control and how that has affected us. I have had such moments this past year awaiting information from the State, dealing with the Department of Health, trying to contact a business, or just waiting on line to enter a grocery store. Sometimes these moments left me angry and frustrated and in some instances emotional. I have caught myself raising my voice, speaking – or writing emails – in a nasty tone, and generally not displaying the patience of a fully-rational person. Having never endured a year like this, I try to forgive myself (and others) for the ways we have all acted out of frustration. I hope if you have been on the receiving end of one of my cranky communiques, you will forgive me, too (Do you hear me, Westchester County Department of Health?).

I hope that our full reopening of schools will help to bring some sense of control back into our lives and will also help to diminish some of the feelings of frustration. I am optimistic that we can begin to work our way back to being a school community where we are respectful of each other and express our thanks and appreciation for each other’s efforts. One of the most powerful things I have learned during my time in Rye is that there exists here a unique sense of community and supportiveness.

As we move forward with our phased reopening plan, I recognize that this has been a year of great challenges and disruption. Families have been forced to be distant, playdates have been eliminated, travel has been limited, and the interactions of day-to-day life have been dramatically altered. While we begin the process of fully reopening our schools, I ask that we all take some time to reset and look at this time as a new beginning.

The first days of school are always filled with excitement, optimism, and positivity. Children arrive with freshly-sharpened pencils, empty notebooks, cool new backpacks, and their biggest smiles (visible even behind the masks). They greet friends they haven’t seen for a while, meet their teachers, and begin a new school year. My ask is simple: please hit the reset button and help our kids and our schools to bring that first day excitement into our community. Thank you.

Best regards,

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

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