• Coronavirus Update: April 6th, 2020

    Good Afternoon Scarsdale Families,

    The weather for the start of Wellness Week has lived up to the best of what April has to offer: warmer temperatures; light breezes; and clear, blue skies. In addition to sunnier climes, we hope our students enjoyed today’s learning activities--and remembered to do their attendance and reflection! This afternoon’s update will focus on the recently extended school closure, Regents Exams, and our kick off of Wellness Week.

    Extended closure: 

    Today, Governor Cuomo announced that mandatory school closures would continue through April 29th. This comes amidst some positive news about the possible plateauing of the virus in our area. Contemplating additional days of closure is disappointing, but the news that our efforts may be having a positive effect is heartening. Distance learning will continue after Wellness Week, and will evolve as teachers and administrators work to best meet students’ needs from a distance, and under these challenging circumstances.  

    Regents Exams:

    In addition to the closure announcement, the Board of Regents is expected to cancel all Regents exams tomorrow that were scheduled for June. Further guidance and logistics are expected sometime tomorrow.

    Wellness Week:

    “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all”- Aristotle. 

    Marc Brackett, professor and social scientist from Yale University, highlights the research-based evidence connecting the role of social and emotional competencies to work-life successes and joy. Clearly from the quote above, Aristotle arrived at this conclusion first. Some have questioned this week's focus on emotional wellness, just when we “got the swing” of eLearning. For the District, this week was the perfect time for us to shift our focus to connectedness as a thoughtful and strategic way to regroup, relax, and prime ourselves for academic learning. For example, the simple joy of writing a positive chalk message on a sidewalk can create the mindspace, enthusiasm, and the energy to re-engage in other pursuits, such as a history paper, science inquiry, or long division in the days ahead.  

    Even with the occasional need for tech support, today was a success. Throughout the day, students wrote poetry; learned about exercise, mindfulness and meditation; created works of art; and conducted oral history interviews. Tomorrow, there will be a morning Bear Hunt with Ms. Guistino and many middle school students will fill out at least three squares of the PERMA bingo board through the Middle School site, and a Lunch and Learn on Mental Health with Drs. Oliverio and Faustino.  

    While the NYS Regents exams were cancelled, it doesn’t mean there will be an end to assessments. As we wait for the specific State expectations to be revealed, we will continue to focus on our careful and rigorous work of curricular alignment with attention to standards. An adapted scope and sequence will take into account the interruptions to our usual schedule. Scarsdale will continue to meet and go beyond expectations set forth by the Regents, State, and Nation. We will also continue to pay attention to wellness, well-being, and the whole child.

    Some reminders about tomorrow’s sessions:

    Logistics:

    Workshops and activities are listed by age range AND starting times (9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 1:00 p.m.) on Tuesday, and Wednesday. The synchronous (or live) workshops appear in a regular font and the asynchronous workshops (or taped or independent activities) are listed in BOLD

    The website with the day’s activities can be found at http://www.scarsdaleschools.org/wellness, and students can fill out daily attendance/reflection form here.

    Some Notes on Synchronous Activities (please read these directions carefully):

    For safety and security purposes, you will need to log into Zoom to access synchronous activities. Students in kindergarten and first grade will need an adult to log into Zoom. Students in grades two through twelve must log into Zoom with their Scarsdale Schools user account by clicking “Sign in with Google.”

    Some Notes on Asynchronous Activities:

    The asynchronous activities are generally self-guided activities. This means that they can be started, stopped, and revisited as desired. Remember on Google Slides presentations to advance these manually (with arrow keys), as they typically default to very quick transitions otherwise. For our elementary students, asynchronous activities will likely need a family member to navigate the sites and to read the text and/or directions. 

    We hope you enjoyed the first day’s activities, and we are looking forward to continuing the theme tomorrow.  Have a wonderful evening!

    Regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

    April 3rd, 2020

    The coronavirus has required us to be homebound for the better part of a month now, and we’ve learned some important life lessons: we have had multiple phases of eLearning, perfected social distancing and disinfecting, and learned how to push the buttons of the people we live and work with, both in person and virtually! However unusual all of this has been, the weather is starting to warm up; flowers are blooming; trees are burgeoning; and we are reminded that Spring is here, promising hope and new life. It’s been a rough road, but we will get through it.

    The next weeks remain uncertain in terms of governmental restrictions; continued school closures; and the physical, emotional, and financial impacts of the coronavirus, but, if the recent past is an indication of the near future, the days ahead will also bring many more examples of human kindness and compassion. 

    Wellness Week: 

    Next week’s Wellness Week, which focuses on connectedness, will offer students dozens of synchronous and asynchronous workshops and sessions on a range of topics. Some titles include, “Loving the National Parks--From a Distance,” “Communication is the Art of Listening,” “Sustainability: Connecting with the Land and World Around Us,” “Learning from our Family: Sharing our Family Stories through Flipgrid,” and “Connecting through Taekwondo.” Some activities will require digital streaming, while others call for students to detach from technology completely. Teachers from across the District are excited to share their passions and interests in the area of connectedness and wellbeing. 

    By Sunday afternoon, all Scarsdale families (and Middle and High School students) will be sent a full, digital catalog with an opportunity to preview and select the offerings for the week that they would like to participate in. It is important to note that the catalog will be “live,” and additional offerings will be added throughout the week. No prior sign up is required; however, Scarsdale students will be asked to fill out a brief reflection each day, along with a list of activities they have completed. While these activities are designed to be joyful, creative, and fun, they are also considered to be essential learning for all our students and look forward to 100% participation: On Monday through Wednesday, students will be asked to participate during each of the three available time slots (9:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 1:00 p.m.). On Thursday and Friday, students will be asked to participate in the three sessions, as family religious observances allow. 

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    April 2nd, 2020

    Dear Scarsdale Families,

    To start, some thoughts on connectedness by Dalai Lama:

    “A wider or more altruistic attitude is very relevant in today's world. If we look at the situation from various angles, such as the complexity and interconnectedness of the nature of modern existence, then we will gradually notice a change in our outlook, so that when we say 'others' and when we think of others, we will no longer dismiss them as something that is irrelevant to us. We will no longer feel indifferent.”

    Good evening! The planning for next week is in full swing, and we wanted to use this update to provide some additional details about next week. Thus far, over 120 teachers have been involved in planning the week’s activities, creating 53 separate learning activities--and more coming in every day!

    The development of our online catalog of K-12 activities, workshops, and experiences is in process. We expect to publish the full menu of selections on our website over the weekend. In addition to a rich menu of asynchronous activities, over 40 synchronous activities have also been planned and scheduled. 

    While our eLearning will have a different focus next week, all of our students are expected to participate. The week will follow a “conference-style” format, offering students a wide range of age-appropriate choices related to the theme of connectedness and wellness. The catalog will be organized by grade and time, with the opportunity for three separate experiences each day. Students will participate and then complete short reflections. On Monday through Wednesday, students will be asked to participate during each of the three available time slots. On Thursday and Friday, students will be asked to participate as their family religious observances allow. As our plans get finalized, we will share the catalog, along with any specific instructions. 

    As we all prepare ourselves for the week ahead, I am reminded of a poignant statement by Brene Brown, “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

     

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

      

    April 1st, 2020

    Dear Scarsdale Families,

    It’s already mid-week, and today’s weekly update will focus on our planning for next week and discuss Zoom guidelines and data privacy.

    Wellness Week:

    We continue to plan for next week’s focus on “The Whole Child.” Since our last update, over 100 teachers have participated in developing sessions and activities around our theme of connectedness. These activities will include mindfulness practices, physical wellness, sustainability, community involvement, and virtual volunteerism, to name only a few. Many of these activities will be synchronous and involve opportunities for live connection with educators across the District. A digital, K-12 catalog of activities, workshops, and experiences will be sent to Scarsdale families over the weekend to help with week-long planning. There is no need to sign up beforehand and further directions will be provided. 

    Zoom Guidelines and Data Privacy: 

    There has been much media coverage about privacy issues surrounding the use of Zoom. It is important to know that the District anticipated the items currently discussed in the media, and we took preemptive steps to address the potential issues when we started to use Zoom for eLearning. These steps include the following:

    • The District implemented the enterprise version of Zoom and generated accounts for staff and students in grades 2 to 12. This provides us with many controls that are not available with the free basic version of Zoom. Students in grades K to 2 participate in Zoom classes using an adult’s account.

    • We reviewed Zoom's privacy policy for schools and had Zoom sign our District’s data privacy agreement and Parents’ Bill of Rights as required under ED Law, 2-D.

    • We configured the Zoom platform to provide teachers with controls that protect their virtual classrooms.

    • We shared best practices with teachers and are providing our faculty with professional development to help teachers manage their online Zoom classrooms and maximize student privacy. 

    Although we have implemented the proper Zoom control settings on our end, we need to review expectations and reminders around our use of instructional Zoom meetings. These include:

    • Zoom sessions with students are opportunities for students to connect with teachers and engage in learning. While our youngest students will need some parent support, we ask parents to allow students to participate as independently as possible at the younger grades and fully independently in grades 2-12. If parents would like to discuss issues with the teacher, please do that privately through email or by phone.

    • Photographing or recording Zoom sessions by students or parents is a serious violation of other students’ privacy, so please do not photograph or record video conferencing sessions.

    • Background noise and conversation (music/TVs, dogs barking, profanity, etc.) that is audible to students who are participating in the Zoom session detracts from learning. Please provide your student with a quiet, distraction (and sibling, when possible) free space to participate in synchronous sessions. 

    Our teachers are increasingly offering more video conferencing opportunities with students. In order for this to be successful, it requires everyone’s cooperation in maintaining appropriate Zoom-etiquette and Zoom-environments. Thank you for this cooperation! 

    I would like to thank our teachers for their flexibility and overwhelming response when called upon to develop a program for next week, particularly with such short notice. I would also like to thank our students and families for your continued support as we continue to iterate our eLearning plans. The week ahead will include an exciting array of classes and learning activities that will be available to help reconnect our students to the outside world!   

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    March 31st, 2020

    Dear Scarsdale Families,

    We know that the past few weeks have been difficult ones, to say the least. Upending routines, providing instruction remotely, juggling personal and professional responsibilities, and limiting social circles have all had an impact on us. However, this is the sacrifice we all are being asked to make as part of the government’s effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and in an effort to flatten the curve on the spread of this insidious virus.   

    On March 27, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.11, which extended the time schools would be closed through April 15, 2020. In that Executive Order, Governor Cuomo also made clear that all schools must use any and all scheduled vacation days for remote learning. The Deputy Secretary of Education later clarified that this included the upcoming spring break week. The consequence of failing to abide by this mandate is a loss of state aid that could potentially jeopardize the ongoing 2020-21 budget process in a politically and economically unstable time. 

    With all of this in mind, and the fact that next week is a time for religious observance for many families and staff members, we will use the week as an opportunity for students to engage in eLearning that focuses on wellness, as well as “catch-up” time on current assignments, stress relief, introspection, and religious observance. Our theme for next week will be “connectedness” and the activities will focus on connecting with oneself, peers, immediate and extended family, and the world around us. 

    Our administrative team and teachers are planning lessons and activities over the next few days, and we will follow-up with additional details as soon as our schedule has been finalized.

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    March 30th, 2020

    Dear Scarsdale Families,

    As a public service announcement, families should  beware of online scams, including the latest warnings released by the US Department of Justice. These scams often target our most vulnerable populations. The Internet safety company KnowBe4 prepared some excellent resources to help people understand potential risks from cybercriminals. You can find information here, as well as a one-page guide to protecting your phone from mobile attacks at this link.

    Today’s update will provide information about today’s Board of Education meeting, the Governor's new Executive Order, and several important technology tips and updates. 

    Also important to note is that after a month of daily updates, we will be shifting to a once weekly schedule for District updates. Please be assured that, if there is time sensitive information, we will not hesitate to inform the community.  

    Board Meeting Reminder:

    The Board of Education of the Scarsdale Union Free School District will hold a virtual meeting tonight, March 30, 2020. Board members and Administrators will be participating virtually via Zoom. To view the meeting live and to participate in the public comment periods, click here or access it via the District Calendar. For the best experience, please download the Zoom client or Zoom mobile app to the device that you will be using to attend the meeting. If you already have Zoom installed, please check that you are on the latest version.

    At 6:30 p.m. the Board will convene a Budget Study Session and Forum, which will include a presentation of an update to the Draft Proposed 2020-21 Budget, followed by a Board discussion and community responses.

    Immediately following the Budget Forum, the Board will convene a Business Meeting. Highlights of the agenda include: Information and Discussion items, including an update on eLearning, and Action items, including a bid for elevator projects at the High School and Middle School; and bids for heating and ventilation work at Edgewood and Fox Meadow Schools (part of the 2018 Bond project).

    Governor’s New Executive Order:

    Among other items addressed, the Governor has directed that any school board, library board, or village election scheduled to take place in April or May of 2020 is hereby postponed until at least June 1, 2020, and subject to further directive as to the timing, location or manner of voting for such elections. 

    Technology Tips and Reminders:

    As everyone continues to rely on technology during this time, the District has been engaged in providing ongoing professional development for teachers. These online sessions help teachers to support student eLearning, and our teachers can select from a menu of online workshops that are offered each week. The sessions are hosted by the ST@C, The Scarsdale Teachers Collaborative, a community of educators seeking to share ideas, collaborate, and learn together. These sessions are sponsored by the Scarsdale Teachers Institute.

    Our elementary students require help in managing their eLearning assignments, and it’s important for parents to understand how their child’s classroom teacher has structured his/her learning experiences. In grades K-2, teachers are typically using tools like SeeSaw to help share information with their students. In grades 3-5, many teachers are placing their lessons and resources on a “launching point” platform like Google Classroom, Schoolwires, a custom Website, or a Google Doc. These launching points can contain links to documents, websites, or online learning resources that live on other websites.

    At the secondary level, teachers also have selected a launching point for student learning, choosing from a number of tools at the High School level, to using a standardizing learning management system like Schoology at the Middle School.

    Examples of the types of resources used by teachers at all levels include: custom created screencasts and online lessons; online simulations; websites where students practice a skill or learn a new concept; reference-based services, including curated project pages, ebooks and a citation generator offered by our school libraries; and Online videos and short documentaries that provide information about a variety of curriculum areas.

    Setting up a space for learning for your child is also essential. If possible, a quiet space free from most distraction will help your child focus on their learning in both their synchronous and asynchronous experiences. When engaged in a video conference, students should be seated or standing in front of their device. The student’s head should be framed within the screen and visible to the teacher and classmates. If possible, students should wear headsets so that outside distractions are at a minimum and student attention is maximized. 

    The synchronized learning experience is for our students. Parents should allow students to participate in these sessions independently and free of parent and/or sibling interaction. 

    We would like to maintain the privacy of all students during these learning experiences, and as such, it is important to note that parents and students are not allowed to photograph or videotape Zoom or Google Hangout sessions.

    Finally, it’s important for students at all levels to balance school work with wellness, healthy habits, and some physical activity. Our team of elementary physical education and health teachers created two documents, in collaboration with our school psychologists, that outline important ideas about wellness. Even if you read them during our first week of our closure, it’s worth reviewing their guide to Movement and Mindfulness in grades K-2 and their document for grades 3-5.

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

     

    March 27th, 2020

    Dear Scarsdale Families,

    Congratulations, you and your family have made it through week 3 of school closures related to the coronavirus outbreak. Today's daily update will include new closure information; a reminder about Monday’s Board meeting; a note on eLearning; an update on interscholastic athletics; some arts and culture recommendations for the weekend--and beyond; and another poem from our own Poet Laureate, Danielle Kohn.

    Governor Extends School Closures:

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this morning that schools would remain closed until April 15th because of the coronavirus pandemic, at which time the situation will be reassessed. Schools were initially supposed to be closed for two weeks from March 18th through March 31st as per the Governor's executive order issued on March 17th. Schools will be expected to continue with their plans for child care, meals and distance learning, and the 180-day waiver will remain in effect.

    Board Meeting Reminder:

    The Board of Education of the Scarsdale Union Free School District will hold the following virtual meetings on Monday, March 30, 2020. Board members and Administrators will be participating virtually via Zoom. To view the meeting live and to participate in the public comment periods, click here or access it via the District Calendar. For the best experience, please download the Zoom client or Zoom mobile app to the device that you will be using to attend the meeting. If you already have Zoom installed, please check that you are on the latest version.

    At 6:30 p.m. the Board will convene a Budget Study Session and Forum, which will include a presentation of the Draft Proposed 2020-21 Budget, followed by a Board discussion and community responses.

    Immediately following the Budget Forum, the Board will convene a Business Meeting. Highlights of the agenda include: Information and Discussion items, including an update on eLearning, and Action items, including a bid for elevator projects at the High School and Middle School; and bids for heating and ventilation work at Edgewood and Fox Meadow Schools (part of the 2018 Bond project).

    The meeting will replay on cable SPS-TV. The replay schedule will be published the following day at www.scarsdaleschools.k12.ny.us/tv. The video recording will also be posted online in the BOE Video Library.

    eLearning: 

    Feedback is important to all learning organizations, and, as such, we have been gathering important information about our eLearning plan through emails to the District and building administrators. This evening a survey is going out to Scarsdale parents with two essential questions. First, we are asking, what has been successful in our current eLearning plan? What has been going well? What platforms, methods, communications, and structures have helped your child(ren) learn? Secondly, we will be asking about the challenges that your child and family have had through our eLearning plan? What has gotten in the way of the learning? What structures are the most frustrating? By gathering this information, we are looking to continually refine and adapt our methods to best support student learning. We are also surveying educators and next week will proceed with gathering more formal feedback from our High School students through a survey and focus groups. 

    Interscholastic Athletics:

    Since school has been closed, the Athletics Department has been prepared to start the Spring season on the first day that we are allowed. Though that start date has been pushed back, our coaches have continued to prepare for an upcoming spring season. Our purpose has become focused on creating the most positive experiences for all participants.   

    On March 30, Section 1 will meet to discuss the upcoming Spring season related to competitive format and participation. During next week, they will focus on developing a framework for the regular season. On April 27, NYSPHSAA will examine the feasibility of Spring State Championships.

    Again, during this closure and postponement period, Scarsdale sports team try-outs, practices, training sessions, and team gatherings are suspended. Consistent with the District-wide school closure goal and CDC guidelines regarding social distancing, student-athletes should not participate in “captain’s practices” or other team get-togethers during this period. For this purpose, all fields will remain closed until further notice. Moreover, since the dates and structure of any post-season championship tournament will be developed as we move forward, it is important that we all respect this postponement in order to retain any potential eligibility for our spring season.

    Art & Culture for the Weekend:

    We’ve made it to the weekend and may need some new ideas and activities to engage your children over the weekend. The following are some links that you and your family may enjoy!

    • StayAtHomeFest features a calendar for online music events.
    • Mo Willems Lunch Doodles daily sessions with the Kennedy Center Fellow and author. Great fun for the whole family!
    • The Musée d'Orsay in Paris where pictures are worth more than a 1000 words.
    • The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam includes an exciting family game to solve eight fascinating Rijksmuseum mysteries.
    • Nightly Met Opera Streaming will be hosting different encore presentations from the company’s Live in HD series via the Met website.
    • Virtual Zoos, Museums, and Theme Parks allows you and your family to “walk” through some of the world's most prestigious cultural institutions, like The Met and The American Museum of Natural History, then go for a "ride" on Disney's new Frozen rollercoaster.
    • Guggenheim has a host of videos, audio files, books, and software to explore nearly endless possibilities.
    • Kanopy lets you stream more than 30,000 documentaries and movies using your Scarsdale library card.
    • The National Library and Audible offers children thousands of e-books for free.

    A Poem for Westchester’s Youth Poet Laureate:

    Scarsdale is honored to have our own Danielle Kohn (11th grade) recognized as the Youth Poet Laureate of Westchester! Today’s poem serves as an important reminder that everything in life should be enjoyed moderately, but we should make sure to have generous portions of tranquil emptiness in our lives as well:

     

    Empty Space

     

    Thirty spokes put together make a wheel,

    but it’s in the space where there is nothing

    that the usefulness of the wheel depends.

    Clay that’s shaped will make a pot,

    but it’s in the space where there is nothing

    that the usefulness of the pot depends

    Wood that’s cut will make a house,

    but it’s in the space where there is nothing

    that the usefulness of the house depends.

    Therefore we should not value only what is,

    but also what is not.

     –Lao Tzu (from Tao Te Ching)


    In closing, the Governor’s announcement today is bittersweet; it is comforting to know we are still following a course which promises to “flatten the curve” and keep our students and community safe, but it also means additional weeks of removal from our former normalcy. Over the past week, my colleagues and I have received many emails of support and praise for our teachers. I share in that deep admiration for our teachers as well, and their individual and collective responses to this crisis just continues to add to that joy and pride. Our students also deserve to be acknowledged for their grit and perseverance. We know they miss their friends, teachers, and daily routines, but they continue to impress me with their incredible tenacity and optimism. And finally, thank you again to our entire community for supporting our students and our teachers through this unusual time. I have said from the beginning that this will prove to be a marathon, take time this weekend to enjoy, relax, and engage in your passions. 

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    March 26th, 2020

    Dear Scarsdale Families,

    Happy Thursday! The sun is shining again, and hopefully the warmth is lifting our collective spirits. Today's daily update will include some thoughts on eLearning, a letter from Safe Coalition’s Coordinator Lauren Pomerantz, and a poem from our own Poet Laureate, Danielle Kohn. 

    eLearning: 

    For classroom teachers eLearning presents some new and novel challenges; however, being a distance-learning student is also very different. Consider your child’s new reality. Gone is the closeness of friends, of easily getting together for group projects, study sessions, conversations and discussions. Gone is their ability to meet with teachers after class for extra help, or to ask a follow-up question. Everything now is being mediated by a computer screen. Students may or may not function well in an online environment so being prepared around some of their challenges is important. Additionally, when not in school, some students may be tempted to do other things than school work, so managing student motivation and attendance can become an issue—it is easy to fall behind, especially with asynchronous distance learning models. We continue to hear some parents report that their children have little or no work; however, when teachers or principals are contacted, inevitably there is curriculum to be reviewed and learning activities to be completed. In this unique learning situation, we encourage families to set up structures where children can show off the work they have been engaged in, giving you a chance to verify they are able to access and successfully work through the learning materials and activities.

    Beyond working on content mastery, our model of eLearning engages students in ways that require that they strengthen other skills. Synchronous (live) lessons give students a chance to check in with, and learn directly from, their teachers, but importantly, asynchronous lessons give them an opportunity for other essential learning. Because they are required to work independently, monitor their understanding, and organize their work, students are practicing important skills in the area of executive functioning. We know that these skills will serve them well throughout their years in Scarsdale, as well as in college, career, and life. And while, as has been said, there is no substitute for the in-person classroom environment, eLearning is a true opportunity to develop, practice, and master these skills. 

    A Letter from the Safe Coalition:

    While we are all experiencing the stresses of this outbreak, many of us are also experiencing a silver lining, reconnecting with those closest to us. Unfortunately, some homes do not experience this benefit, and the Scarsdale Safe Coalition has released the information below. If anyone is experiencing difficulty, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the resources below or to call any one in the school administration and we can help guide you to the right resources.

    The Safe Coalition: Children, Families, Community would like to share some vital information during these difficult times. For many people, forced to be at home is not only unsettling but also dangerous. Those who regularly experience family violence (domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse) may see this behavior exacerbated during such stressful times. Survivors and victims need resources and support now more than ever. 

    Included in this message (below) are local and national resources for both violence and mental health support, action steps to encourage our government to consider survivors and victims, and information about orders of protection and other emergency actions related to family violence.

    It is our hope that the Scarsdale community will continue to consider the most vulnerable populations during this time. We wish you all peace, health, and safety. 

    The Safe Coalition
    Lauren Pomerantz, LCSW
    lpomerantz@sfcsinc.org

    Resources mentioned above: Click Here

    A Poem for Westchester’s Youth Poet Laureate:

    Scarsdale is honored to have our own Danielle Kohn (11th grade) recognized as the Youth Poet Laureate of Westchester! Danielle has and continues to work with the Youth Bureau to get more children to read and love poetry. Her goal is to institute a month of poetry reading in elementary school. We applaud her efforts and will bring to you a selection of poetry she has curated:

    And the People Stayed Home

    And the people stayed home. 
    And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, 
    and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. 
    And listened more deeply. 
    Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. 
    Some met their shadows. 
    And the people began to think differently.

    And the people healed. 
    And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, 
    the earth began to heal.

    And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, 
    they grieved their losses, and made new choices, 
    and dreamed new images, 
    and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, 
    as they had been healed. 

    –Irene Vella (translated from the Italian by Kitty O’Meara)

    For those of you who wish to stay engaged in a time of social distancing, I invite you to seek out opportunities to help our community through volunteerism. Volunteer New York! has set a Virtual Volunteer Center with opportunities to support your community while homebound. As always, my thoughts are with you and yours, stay healthy and safe!

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman
     

    March 25th, 2020

    Dear Scarsdale Families,

    Welcome to the week’s halfway point! Today's daily update will address a clarification on Spring Break, some tips on staying healthy from our friends at Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling, and some thoughts on communication and advocacy.

    Spring Break Clarification:

    It has been brought to our attention that there was some confusion regarding yesterday’s announcement that Spring Break is on from Monday, April 6 - Friday, April 10. To be clear, although we are currently scheduled to return to school on April 1st, we do not believe there is a very high probability that this will happen. We fully expect further guidance from the State or County level requiring further closures, but we are still awaiting official word. Even if closed, we will be observing the Spring Break window without eLearning taking place during that time.

    If there are questions about this, or other District matters, I do urge you to contact the appropriate District personnel to get answers and facts, rather than relying on social media resources for answers that may or may not be accurate. 

    SEFC Mental Health Tips for Families:

    Practice a daily attitude of gratitude. Begin to develop a habit of listing 3 things you are grateful for. You may want to add this to your family’s morning routine, write these down somewhere you will see them and be reminded of them throughout the day, or turn this into a fun art project with your kids. 

    Stay active! Whether it’s playing outside with your kids, yoga or making time for a home workout, physical activity can be one of the most effective stress relievers.

    Take time to be in nature. Get outside, go for a walk or a run, take the family on a hike. State parks are open and encouraging people to come enjoy the fresh air. A little sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for mental health and wellness. It can also be a good time to disconnect from the news and constant information.

    Connect with friends and family. Physical distance does not have to mean emotional disconnect or social isolation. Pick up the phone and call your friends, family and neighbors. One benefit of living in this technology age is video calling (Not just for work meetings), this can be a great way to stay connected with those in your social circle. 

    Manage your own expectations. Be kind to yourself and those around you.

    Take one day at time. Try not to project too far into the future. Remember this is temporary and you are not alone.

    Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control. https://insighttimer.com/blog/54321-grounding-technique/

    The Power of Communication:

    In so many ways, eLearning has shifted the way we run a day-to-day “classroom”. We are adapting our methodology and expectations to match this new way of learning. And while we are adjusting our instruction and curriculum, some processes are very similar. Our communication structure, for example, is close to how it’s always been. Beyond our early childhood learners, the major point of communication remains between our students and teachers for questions, clarifications, and demonstrations. The method may be different (email, google docs, Zoom), but we encourage as much independence as possible. One of our goals for Scarsdale students is for them to be independent, self advocates who seek the answers to their own questions. For our youngest students, communication naturally involves parents directly. Because at this time we are truly partnering with families to organize resources and learning environments, additional questions may arise. We encourage parents to take advantage of the teacher’s “office hours” for help, support, and clarification especially around workload and management. The building administrators can also provide support and answers related to questions about expectations and issues beyond the virtual classroom. 

    Clear and ongoing communication is always important, but perhaps more essential now than ever. 

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    March 24th, 2020

    Today's daily update will address Spring Break, last night’s Board Meeting, report cards and K-2 Parent-Teacher conferences, and student privacy issues. There is a lot of important information today, please read the full update.

    Spring Break, To Be or Not to Be:

    Many parents (and students!) have asked about Spring Break and whether those days would need to be made up in light of our extended closure. The short answer is yes: we will have Spring Break, albeit a day shorter, running from Monday, April 6 - Friday, April 10. Due to our closure, which began on March 9, we will have to use Monday, April 13th and Friday, May 22nd as instructional days to meet the mandated 180 days of session. The Governor's Executive Order has exempted school districts from the 180 instructional day mandate, but only by the number of school days incorporated into the March 18 - March 31, 2020, closure. Note that it is possible that the State will honor the seven days we were closed prior to the Executive Order, but we are still awaiting guidance on that. We will certainly update the community if there are any further changes.

    Last Night’s Board Meeting:

    As noted previously, the Board of Education held two virtual meetings last night: a Budget Study Session at 6:30 p.m. followed by a Business Meeting.

    At the 6:30 p.m. Budget Session, the District reviewed with the Board considerations for a significantly revised draft proposed budget. The presentation by Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey included an updated timeline for meetings involving the budget, an update on financial conditions and significant unknowns, projected financial impact scenarios for the current year (2019-20), and considerations for reductions to the proposed 2020-21budget plan. A total of $3.67 million in expenditure reductions were considered, alongside a few additions and estimated changes in revenues. After public comment and much discussion, the Board tasked my Cabinet to look at further budget reductions in the area of personnel for the next Board meeting on Monday, March 30th.

    During the regular Business meeting, Assistant Superintendent Edgar McIntosh highlighted the instructional shifts, professional learning, and communication around Phase II of Scarsdale continuity of education plan. In addition to discussing the updated plan, resources were shared through the Scarsdale Curriculum Office website: K-12 eLearning Overview. A community survey will be distributed to families to determine the successes and struggles of the current plan. 

    The meeting can be viewed on playback on SPS-TV here, and is now also online here. Board Highlights will be coming out shortly that will provide an update on other Board matters discussed and action items that were approved.

    Report Cards and K-2 Parent-Teacher Conferences:

    Report cards will be available in Infinite Campus Parent Portal tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25, 2020. An email will be sent from the Curriculum Office signalling when the cards are uploaded and can be viewed. Please understand that during the closure, teachers have not had regular access to school buildings, where some of the student work that is used to guide report card completion still resides. As a result, teachers will communicate any additional information after the report card’s release directly with parents, as needed.

    K-2 Parent-Teacher Conferences are no longer scheduled. Like our practice in grades 3-5, where only the Fall conference period exists, teachers will identify any students for whom a parent-teacher conference is deemed essential, and will reach out to schedule a time to have a discussion via phone. This approach means that most families should not expect a March conference. However, as is always the case, parents are invited to reach out via email or phone to engage their child’s teacher with information about their child, along with questions and/or concerns. Teacher “office hours” can support this effort.

    Reminders About Student Privacy in the Era of Zoom and Google Hangout:

    As everyone continues to transition to remote learning, please remember that it’s important to protect the privacy of our children, and we need everyone’s cooperation to do this. Here are some important guidelines:

    Parents should not take photos or videos of Zoom or Google Hangout sessions. Teachers may post photos of classes, but they have been instructed to hide the names of any students if they do so.

    Parents may be tempted to sign up for a variety of free services that vendors are currently offering to families. Note that virtually all of these vendors are only offering these services for a limited amount of time. Also, these vendors may collect personally identifiable information from you or your children. Make sure that you read the privacy policy of any site where information is shared.

    Finally, and unfortunately, during times of crisis, people are increasingly targeted by online scammers who will try to steal your personal information. Make sure that you carefully review your email messages, especially if they appear to come from a bank, the IRS, or a commercial service like Netflix or Amazon. You should not click on any links or open attachments in a suspicious email.

    In closing, unlike yesterday, today feels like Spring again. I encourage all of you to go outside and get a dose of fresh air and Vitamin D (with appropriate social distancing, of course) as it does a world of good! My continued thanks to the community for your enduring support; the teachers for your incredible, hard work; and the students and parents for your on-going perseverance.

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    March 23rd, 2020

    Today's daily update will address tonight’s Board Meeting and provide some guidance on maintaining realistic expectations during the next weeks as we work to mitigate the COVID-19 spread.

    Tonight’s Board Meeting:

    As noted previously, the Board of Education of the Scarsdale Union Free School District will hold two virtual meetings on Monday, March 23, 2020: a Budget Study Session/Forum at 6:30 pm, and a Business Meeting following the Session/Forum.

    At the 6:30 pm Budget Session/Forum, the District will review with the Board of Education considerations for a significantly revised draft proposed budget. The presentation by Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey will include an updated timeline for meetings involving the budget, an update on financial conditions and significant unknowns, projected financial impact scenarios for the current year (2019-20), and considerations for reductions to the proposed 2020-21budget plan. A total of $3.67 million in expenditure reductions will be considered, alongside a few additions and estimated changes in revenues. 

    Following the Budget Session, tonight’s education report will focus on the next phase of Scarsdale’s eLearning plan. Assistant Superintendent Edgar McIntosh will be highlighting the instructional shifts, professional learning, communication between home and school, and addressing common asked questions about our process, goals, and next steps. He will also describe how we will use ongoing assessments, as well as student, educator, and community feedback to adjust and adapt our plan going forward.  

    The revised draft of the Board meeting may be accessed on the District website, under District Information/Board of Education/Board Meeting Agendas/BoardDocs/March 23 Meeting Agenda, here.

    Scarsdale residents are urged to tune in to the Public Forum via Zoom to learn more about the new proposed considerations, and take part in the public comment period.

    Guidance from Scarsdale’s Director of Psychologists, Dr. Elliot Cohen:

    “I hope this note finds you and your families well during this unprecedented time in our history. With so many in isolation, quarantine or social distancing, I would like to offer some basic guidance. First, I would like to remind you that it can be helpful to acknowledge the situation you are experiencing and what you are feeling. Next, work on perspective – set realistic expectations about what can be done, with the understanding that some of the facts are fluid and we will deal with them as they unfold.  I would like to share some recommended activities and self-care /strategies:

    • Try to set up some basic routines (including sleep/wake) schedules, bathing and getting adequate rest and exercise, maintain a healthy diet (balance and hydration) and cut back unhealthy ones. Get dressed in different clothing from what you sleep in (i.e. don’t stay in pajamas all day). Ideally, consider matching your attire (at least somewhat) for the activity (e.g. work meeting clothing versus hanging out with friend attire). I do understand if there is reluctance to do this, but associative conditioning and other psychological principles tell us this can help our mental health and well-being. Try it.

    • To the extent possible, try to delineate areas for certain activities that are distinct from the spaces you use for other activities. For example, a place to work versus relax/play. Beds should be for sleep only. Even in a small area, try to distinguish distinct areas.

    • 10,000 Steps: Cardiovascular exercise (running, elliptical etc.) has tremendous physical and mental health benefits. In addition, there is research that supports the benefit of walking. Try to take 10,000 steps per day. I know this might seem like a lot, but if you let yourself be creative, you will find it works. Personally, I have been rotating between doing laps in my yard around my tetherball pole and walking back and forth in neat lines, simulating lawn mowing. Use your cell phone step counter.

    • Go outside and get sunlight: Whether you do your 10,000 steps inside or out, try to go outside - especially in the daytime. Sunlight during the day will help with sleep at night and has many other benefits.   

    • Positive psychology teaches us the key determinants of well-being. Commonly, these determinants are reflected by the acronym PERMA plus the development of Character Strengths. Character strengths are briefly covered below (and can be the subject of a subsequent strategy list), but for now I would like to break down PERMA and focus on one aspect that we need to think more about during this COVID 19 crisis. P= Positive emotional experiences; E = Engagement; R = Relationships; M = Meaning/Purpose; A = Accomplishment. Relationships is the factor in focus. The fact that we are all engaging in social distancing could mean that we are also restricting the well-being “Relationships” factor. Since research suggests that Relationships is likely the most critical of all the determinants of well-being, at this time, it behooves us to find ways to strengthen it in our lives.  So how do we foster relationships while simultaneously engaging in social distancing? Here are some ideas:

      • Use technology to connect. Zoom, Face-time, Google Hangouts etc. Also, take a moment to make sure that you are actually using your device to socially connect and build relationships, and not exclusively using it for work, which for many of us has moved to an entirely digital platform. This is not to say that relationships at work do not matter – they can be critical for enriching our lives. The point is that if I am at my device typing a report all day (and night), I have not yet used it for social purposes.  
      • Check on others – this includes family members, neighbors, colleagues, friends. It can especially boost your well-being to check on someone who might be in more need (such as someone who is elderly, sick, lonely, stressed etc.) as that can increase your “R” as well as your “M”;  it reminds us that we really are all connected pieces of something bigger than ourselves – and that is a good thing for well-being. You will also be improving the “R” for someone else, and that is wonderful.
      • It might seem a bit strange at first, but it is important to recognize that one silver lining in the COVID 19 situation is that it can allow us the time, reflection and perspective to begin to forge relationships with others whom we might have previously spoken with less frequently. In other words, in addition to maintaining and strengthening your relationships with those already in your close orbit, consider expanding to those who are in the next arc. Paradoxically, this time of social distancing might be the best opportunity to grow our connections.

    • Limit the amount of time and attention you give to media exposure on the Coronavirus. We know from research that over-attending (i.e. overly repetitive exposure) to upsetting news can be psychologically unhealthy and it can have a compounding impact. For example, 9-11 trauma research found that individuals who repeatedly watched the images of the planes crashing were more likely to experience post event trauma.  Therefore, if you (or your child) are over-focusing on a 24/7 news cycle, it could be helpful to try to balance that with other activities (both cognitive and physical). Do not saturate your exposure to COVID-19. Be aware of what’s going on in the world, but limit yourself to more reliable sources of information (CDC; WHO).  Also, try not to make the mistake of letting a 24/7 news feed infiltrate your place of work, play and relaxation. So, if you are someone who has been glued to the news, try to set up some limits – maybe try 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the late afternoon, and you can even whittle it down from there.  

    • Sift through the healthy stress management practice information that you have been receiving to find the gems that are helpful for you. By this, I mean the many links to mindfulness, breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided visual imagery exercises. I will not repeat them here because I think you might be saturated with this, but feel free to contact your school psychologist, if you need links and leads. The important thing is to experiment and find what works for you. 
        
    • Think a bit about your special character strengths and how you can bring them forward to help you in this new situation. This is also a time when you can work on growing other strengths as well. This will be a topic for another correspondence, but for the curious and proactive try https://www.viacharacter.org/ to learn more about character strengths and how to identify and work with them.

    • Set goals. If setting goals is difficult, then try a simple, effective mental contrasting strategy called WOOP (Wish, Objective, Obstacle, Plan) - where you figure out what your WISH (goal) is, visualize how it would feel to reach the OBJECTIVE, identify the OBSTACLE that most often thwarts your goal and then make a PLAN for how you will deal with the obstacle when it arises. Once you identify the goal and the obstacle, plan-fully create and write out an if-then statement which you will refer to when the thwarting moment inevitably comes. If... (obstacle you named), then I will ... (action or thought you named). For example, if my goal is to complete this document, but notifications on my phone pop-up and draw me away from my goal, I would create a written if-then contingency such as “ If a notification pops up I will turn off notifications until I complete my document”. When the notification pops-up, I look at my plan and actively engage the contingency. The easiest way to become an expert at this is to go to https://woopmylife.org/ to watch a 3 minute video, sign up and download all the materials you will need. Many parents, colleagues and students have already reported this to be of great help. Please just remember – the WOOP goal setting strategy only works for goals that an individual sets for him/herself. It is not effective when we set WOOP goals upon someone else, though we can help others to figure out what they might wish to accomplish. Of course, it can also help to make to-do lists and cross out items when done – this is not WOOP, just a good basic system that enables us to feel a sense of order and accomplishment; also valuable.

    • Know that we are here for you. Our district school psychologists are an exceptional  group of well- trained, caring professionals available to support and help you.”   

     

    I would like to thank Dr. Cohen for his guidance and work. Our community is lucky to have a group of highly qualified, dedicated, and caring psychologists and other faculty and staff working to help us cope with these unique and challenging times.  

    I look forward to the community’s participation in tonight’s Board meeting and continuing the work needed to balance the emerging economic realities and the preservation of the outstanding educational program of the Scarsdale Schools. 

     

    With warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    March 20th, 2020

     
    Today's daily update will address embracing the "new normal", grades 3-8 State Testing, an upcoming virtual Board Meeting on March 23, playgrounds and field closures, and a final note about hope. There will not be any updates over the weekend, but they will resume next week, as needed.

    Our New "Normal":
    As we end another challenging week, my thoughts go out to all of you. Our everyday lives have been led in the context of crisis for the past few weeks. Our current reality is filled with uncertainty, that uncertainty leads to anxiety, questions, and the perceived need to find lasting solutions immediately. Unlike most crises, this situation is not visible like a natural disaster, war, or other "normal" emergency. The Coronavirus outbreak leaves the majority of us practicing extraordinary measures in a world that looks otherwise normal. It also has the potential to have great impacts on our economy. With that in mind, I ask us all to try and lessen the context of crisis and develop a new "normal" approach to the developing situation. Focus on the need for time off from the situation, develop regular routines within the day that focus on enjoying family, exploring interests, and just allowing yourselves to relax. This new reality promises to be a marathon rather than a sprint, and unless we adjust to that, we will not be able to keep up. That being said, we should also remember this is an extraordinary time that will end and the real normal will return.

    3-8 State Testing:
    A short while ago, I received a memo from Betty Rosa, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. An excerpt of this memo reads, "The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is suspending all NYS Elementary- and Intermediate-Level State Assessments for the remainder of the school year in response to the statewide closures of schools and districts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This suspension for the remainder of the school year applies to the following State testing programs:  
    New York State Grades 3-8 English Language Arts Tests  
    New York State Grades 3-8 Mathematics Tests  
    New York State Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test  
    New York State Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test  
    New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) in Grades K-12  New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8 and high school"

    At this point, we have not heard about High School Regents exams, but we will notify the community as soon as we do.

    Upcoming virtual Board Meeting on March 23:
    Hopefully, everyone has received the notice for a Board Meeting Monday, March 23th at 6:30 p.m. The Board Meeting will begin with a Budget Forum, immediately followed by a regular Business Meeting. Board members and administrators will be participating virtually via Zoom. To view the meeting "live" and to participate in the public comment periods, make sure you click on the link within the Board Meeting notice. For the best experience, please download the Zoom client or Zoom mobile app to the device that you will be using to attend the meeting. If you already have Zoom installed, please check that you are on the latest version. The Budget Forum will include significant changes, based on feedback provided at the March 18th meeting. 

    Last Wednesday's education report provided an overview of both the current e-learning plan (Phase I) and the major shifts moving into next week (Phase II). Monday's education presentation will focus on the new expectations for e-learning across the District. Edgar McIntosh, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, will focus on the phasing in of new expectations related to asynchronous and synchronous learning, communication protocols, and the accountability of learning goals. He will also respond to questions from the community about the future of e-learning and its ongoing adaptations. 

    Outdoor Facilities:
    Over the past few days, we have been receiving reports about the use of our outdoor facilities relative to social distancing guidelines. Though we were hopeful to keep these open-air spaces available for our community, the District has decided to close the Butler Track & Field at Scarsdale High School. In light of new guidance on social distancing and our understanding of the current use, we can no longer keep these spaces open. Effective immediately, all District outdoor facilities including playgrounds, fields, and the track are closed indefinitely. We will communicate when we decide to reopen these spaces.

    On Hope:
    Last night on CNN, Anderson Cooper read excerpts of the following poem by Richard Hendrick, a Capuchin Franciscan brother from Ireland. The poem is entitled "Lockdown." I've included the first half of it here. If you enjoy it, I encourage you to read the rest on-line.
     
    Lockdown
    Yes there is fear.
    Yes there is isolation.
    Yes there is panic buying.
    Yes there is sickness.
    Yes there is even death.
    But,
    They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
    You can hear the birds again.
    They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
    The sky is no longer thick with fumes
    But blue and grey and clear.
    They say that in the streets of Assisi
    People are singing to each other
    across the empty squares,
    keeping their windows open
    so that those who are alone
    may hear the sounds of family around them.
    They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
    Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
    Today a young woman I know
    is busy spreading fliers with her number
    through the neighbourhood
    So that the elders may have someone to call on.
    Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
    are preparing to welcome
    and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
    All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
    All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
    All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
    To how big we really are.
    To how little control we really have.
    To what really matters.
    To Love.

    With warm regards and much hope,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman
     
     
     
    March 19th, 2020
    Today's daily update will address highlights from last night's Board meeting related to the Coronavirus, namely the Superintendent's opening remarks and an overview of my Cabinet's presentation. In light of the many mental health issues associated with COVID-19, remote working, and e-learning, this update will also include mental health reminders from our partners at Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Services (SEFC). SEFC has partnered with the Scarsdale Schools and the Village of Scarsdale through the Youth Services Project for almost 40 years, and we have added information about their continuation of services during the outbreak.    
     
     
    Superintendent's Opening Comments
    As a career-long educator, I have always understood the central role of schools for students, not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. What I have thought less about is the overall impact that schooling has on families, specifically, and society, more generally. The current structure of school calendars and days contributes to a larger organizational system that allows adults to conduct independent lives and fulfill workplace duties and other obligations. When schools are forced to close, like we are now due to COVID-19, the impacts are profound and wide-ranging, affecting us all.
     
    That being said, this is a generation-defining moment. Responding to this crisis will undoubtedly test our mettle, both individually and collectively, but more importantly, it will define who we are as a learning institution for years to come. This weighs heavily on me, as I know it does on many of you.
     
    To the Scarsdale community as a whole, I would like to say "thank you" both on behalf of the Scarsdale School system, but also for myself, personally. Everyone in this community has had to make difficult decisions and significant life changes. While this sacrifice has not been easy, it has invariably contributed to the health and lives of members of our community and beyond.
     
    I'd also like to take a moment to specifically acknowledge our students. I am always amazed at the tenacity and adaptability that our students exemplify on a daily basis. They are strong, resilient, and courageous. They also continue to find the silver lining in life, even when the adults around them sometimes falter in this respect. While shouldering these sudden changes with bravery, I am reminded that there are losses that we won't be able to recover, ranging from daily, face-to-face time with friends and other social engagements, to loss of academic and athletic experiences, to a myriad of other goals and dreams that are being held at bay. We know these losses are real and painful, and we yearn to restore normalcy to our students as soon as it is safe to do so.
     
    To our class of 2020 and our students in other pivotal transition years--I am speaking to our Seniors, 8th graders, and 5th graders--this is a particularly momentous year for all of you, a year when your accomplishments, milestones, and traditions are to be acknowledged, lauded, and treasured, especially in these last few months of school that serves as a capstone of your educational career to date. For each of you, this loss of time, shared experience, and camaraderie is particularly difficult. While the next many weeks, perhaps even months, are unclear, you have our commitment to try to make the remaining time that we have together as meaningful as possible under the circumstances. This virus cannot take away from you the sense of accomplishment and achievement that you have earned.
     
    To our staff, I have said many times that you are my heroes. Under normal circumstances, you give freely of your time, talent, and energy. You are fully present with your students, often extending your availability long after traditional work hours. You engage our students as individuals with unique learning needs, and inspire the entire community with passion, creativity, and commitment. To do this at school every day is quite an accomplishment in its own rite. To do this at home, while attending to personal health issues, childcare and family obligations, technology and resource challenges, is truly remarkable. A High School teacher emailed earlier today, and she said it best, "I hope to be at school soon, with health and safety concerns addressed first, of course. I also wanted you to know that we are conferencing with each other and working endless hours to find online resources to best help our students. We are a community and this hasn't changed that in the slightest." She was right, we are a community--and for our students, our teachers are at the very heart of that community. 
     
    These are difficult times for all of us, but it is heartening to know that we are in this together, both in the safeguarding of public health and in the continued education of our children. I wish the circumstances were different, but since I have no control over that, I am thankful to know that, with the support and encouragement of our entire Scarsdale Schools community, we will get through this together.

    Coronavirus Update by Superintendent's Cabinet:
    The Cabinet provided an update on the District's response to the Coronavirus crisis, including a timeline of the crisis as it unfolded and impacted the District; the marshaling of services during the closure, including the provision of meals, and of childcare for first responder families, as needed; the rapid organization and implementation of e-Learning for all students, K-12, and plans to expand those approaches even further in the coming weeks; support for students receiving special education and related services; support for wellness activities at home, and planning for the resumption of athletics activities; Human Resources issues and responses; facilities and finance issues and arrangements; and technology and other logistics, including providing nearly 200 students with devices this week.

    To view the full update in its entirety, please visit https://vimeo.com/398848359
    The presentation begins at the 4:39 mark.
     

    Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Services:
     
    The Scarsdale Community Youth Services Project, individual private counseling, and the Aging in Place initiatives are all operational via virtual platforms.  
     
     
    Scarsdale Comminuty Youth Services Project
    Our five Community Youth Outreach Workers are available to middle school and high school age youth and families for individual, family, and group support.
     

    Parent Support Groups will resume beginning Monday 3/23 via group video conferencing and will help provide guidance on structuring time for children, managing anxieties, and remaining vigilant about teen alcohol and other drug use.

    Community Prevention Coalitions such as the Scarsdale Drug and Alcohol Task Force and Scarsdale Safe Coalition will all resume meetings and virtual activities next week.

    Community members and students are encouraged to contact their Youth Outreach Workers via email.

    Individual and Family Counseling Services:
    Counseling services are being provided for our existing clients and families.  A waitlist is in place for those seeking service.  

    Aging In Place:  
    SEFC is maintaining contact with Scarsdale's most venerable residents via phone.  

    Delivery services for essential items are being coordinated and wellness checks are being provided as necessary. 

    Existing or prospective clients for any of their programs should call SEFCS at (914) 723-3281.

    We urge you or your family members to take advantage of these resources, as needed, as we all navigate these uncertain times.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman
     

     
    March 18th, 2020
    Today's daily update will address tonight's Board meeting, ongoing mental health issues, and ancillary community services.

    The Board of Education of the Scarsdale Union Free School District will hold a special, virtual meeting tonight, Wednesday, March 18. Board members and administrators will be participating virtually via Zoom. To view the meeting live and to participate in the public comment periods, click here. Note: For the best experience, please download the Zoom client or Zoom mobile app to the device that you will be using to attend the meeting. If you already have Zoom installed, please check that you are on the latest version.

    On the Board Meeting Notice sent out a few days ago, a number of topics were listed. Significantly, there is a Board Budget Presentation, starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by a regular Business Meeting thereafter. There will be a Coronavirus presentation by the Superintendent's Cabinet as the first Information/Discussion item. We encourage the community to watch this either live or via video on demand (at your convenience once published) to better understand the full extent of the scope of work around this issue. It should also be noted that a few other items (policies, the Compact for Learning - District Plan, and BoE calendar) will be eliminated from the agenda to provide more time to focus on our most important work at this time.

    As for the continued conversation of self-care and mental health services, the past few weeks have brought major changes to families, schedules, and routines. Parents and children, alike, are removed from their normal schedules and social interactions and are being asked to establish new family norms, to learn and work from home, and to find creative outlets for their energy while social distancing from others. This can be a stressful experience for all. Children may also not have the language or self-understanding to verbalize stress and/or anxiety in a healthy way leading to misunderstanding and additional stress. Not all children experience stress in the same way, seemingly unrelated behavioral changes can be indicators of stress and/or fear surrounding the current situation. These can include regression to behaviors previously outgrown, loss of interest in preferred activities, excessive moodiness or anger, withdrawal, or unexplained aches and pains. The CDC has put together resources for recognizing and managing stress which may be helpful. Additionally, if you need help managing your children's feelings or emotional health please reach out by email to your child's school psychologist. While this is a challenging situation, we should try to focus on how we used this newfound family time to strengthen those relationships. 

    Shifting from social-emotional to physical needs, the District is beginning food services for families in need, according to the Governor's executive order, on Thursday, March 19, 2020.  If you did not sign up and would still like to access this service please email Eric Rauschenbach, Director of Student Services at erauschenbach@scarsdaleschools.org. This service will continue throughout the declared state of emergency. Childcare plans have also been put in place for our vital healthcare workers and first responders. We thank them for their service during this particularly challenging time.

    Thank you for your continued support of our work on behalf of our community's children and youth, and please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman
     
     
     
    March 17th, 2020
    Today's daily update will cover a variety of topics, ranging from wellness and self-care to playground/field use to e-learning reminders. We ask that you read through all of this information and continue to let us know if you have questions and concerns on these or other issues. 
     
    Wellness and Self-Care
    In a recent article, Dr. Doreen Marshall explains, "Human beings like certainty. We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening when and to notice things that feel threatening to us. When things feel uncertain or when we don't generally feel safe, it's normal to feel stressed...A large part of anxiety comes from a sense of what we think we should be able to control, but can't." Whether it is not attending school and work, not going out for a meal, or not being able to socialize as usual, many of us can probably relate to the feeling of powerlessness associated with the recent loss of autonomy and control over some of the most basic aspects of our lives. And yet, there are ways that we can continue to care for ourselves, our children, and others. Dr. Marshall goes on to explain that there are some simple steps which we can take to mitigate these challenges. Roughly paraphrased, we can: 

    Separate what is in your control from what is not. There are things you can do, and it's helpful to focus on those. Wash your hands. Remind others to wash theirs. Take your vitamins. Limit your consumption of catastrophic news.
     
    Do what helps you feel a sense of safety. This will be different for everyone, and it's important not to compare yourself to others. While we are all social distancing due to the potential for sickness, we can continue to interact with friends and family through safe means.
     
    Get outside in nature-even if you are avoiding crowds. Sometimes nothing feels better than to get some fresh air. Exercise also helps both your physical and mental health.
     
    Challenge yourself to stay in the present. Perhaps your worry is compounding-you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn't happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
     
    Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it's ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support. You don't have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help.
     
    Scarsdale Middle School "Close Contacts" Update
    As of this afternoon, 21 of the 36 "close contacts" initially identified have tested negative. Several are awaiting results, and at least 3 have been advised they will not be tested after being interviewed by the DoH. Wednesday marks the end of the original 14-day quarantine period for those individuals. However, all Scarsdale families should continue to self-monitor for symptoms associated with COVID-19. We look forward to more negative tests, and we very much hope everyone is feeling well!

    Social Distancing and Playground Fields
    While schools are closed, many of us are doing our best to balance the demands of work, school, and family. Understandably, we are seeking places, close to home, where we can be active and outdoors. Over the past few days, guidance about social distancing has become increasingly more stringent. In order to reduce the rate at which COVID-19 will spread, we are being asked to limit our contact with groups of people. In our own Scarsdale community, this has real, practical implications, especially in places where we normally congregate. For the foreseeable future, we are asking families to restrict their use of playgrounds. Potentially, these spaces can allow germs to live for extended periods of time and can provide greater opportunity for transmission from person to person. For now, natural grass fields in the District continue to be closed. So any use is prohibited. While Butler Track & Field is not open for authorized use, we ask that everyone use this space respectfully, maintaining sufficient distance, and limiting the number of users at any given time.

    Board Meeting Reminder
    Hopefully, everyone has received the notice for a Board Meeting tomorrow night, March 18th at 6:30 p.m. The Board Meeting will begin with Budget Study Session #3, immediately followed by a regular Business Meeting. This meeting was scheduled to replace the meeting that was canceled on Monday, March 9th. Board members and administrators will be participating virtually via Zoom. To view the meeting live and to participate in the public comment periods, make sure you click on the link within the Board Meeting notice that went out earlier today. For the best experience, please download the Zoom client or Zoom mobile app to the device that you will be using to attend the meeting. If you already have Zoom installed, please check that you are on the latest version. Coronavirus updates will be one of the prominent agenda items under Discussion Items.

    eLearning Advancements 
    While our short term e-learning plan is underway, teachers and administrators are preparing for a cohesive shift towards more synchronous and technology-supported learning at all levels. This transition is supported through ongoing and flexible training, Google/Zoom collaboration and needs surveys, and the establishment of clear guidelines at all levels. We continue to appreciate your constructive feedback and support as we move into our next eLearning phase. 

    Update on State Testing
    The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has suspended the shipments of Grades 3-8 English Language Arts and has stated: "During the time of closure, schools need not focus on State assessments and can devote their efforts toward local school and community needs." The State, however, is still evaluating whether the tests will be delayed or fully suspended. 
     
    In closing, a number of years ago Margaret Wheatley, an American writer and management consultant who studies organizational behavior, prophetically wrote an article entitled, When Change is Out of Our Control. In this piece, she reminds us that, "In order to counter the negative...dynamics stimulated by stress and uncertainty, we must give full attention to the quality of our relationships. Nothing else works, no new tools or technical applications, no redesigned organizational chart. The solution is each other. If we can rely on one another, we can cope with almost anything [emphasis added]." Now more than ever these words ring true for all of us. Thank you for your support and patience as we continue to assist one another through these challenging times.
     
    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman
     
     
    March 16th, 2020
    Standing outside the Michaelian Office Building, Westchester County Executive George Latimer declared a "State of Emergency" for the County. This will allow the County to take more expedient measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic currently facing our entire nation.
     
    The State of Emergency Declaration and subsequent Order reads:
     
    "All public and private schools situated in Westchester County shall be closed to all students and staff except for the performance of administrative, instructional, professional and classified staff functions as determined by each school or school district. Such functions may include the provision of meals as prescribed by law and subject to guidance by the New York State Department of Health and The New York State Education Department."

    Following consultation with all 44 school districts in Westchester and current guidance from New York State, the Order will take effect on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, through Tuesday, March 31. Included in his executive order is the closure of all schools for 14 (calendar) days. The intention of this closure is to help mitigate the spread of the virus in area schools. At present, this information is subject to change based upon ongoing updates. 

    Additionally, as the details of the State and Federal strategy addressing the coronavirus continue to emerge, their recommendations are likely to change. Therefore, families should prepare for the potential of longer school closures. In light of this unpredictability, we ask for your continued flexibility and patience. Moreover, information regarding any potential changes to this year's District calendar will be shared in the near future as soon as that guidance is provided to us from the appropriate State offices.  
     
    Please know that we remain dedicated to serving the educational needs of our students during this prolonged closure. While we recognize that distance learning is not a replacement for face-to-face instruction, it does provide an opportunity for students to continue to be engaged in their learning during this time of crisis.
     
    During the upcoming days and weeks, there will be an increase in both virtual synchronous interaction and recorded teacher lessons at all levels. Teachers experienced in this type of technology are starting this week. For those that are not as well-versed in distance learning applications, a series of online courses and technology tutorials are being offered, so that they may incorporate these elements into their planning and instruction. As we've described, our process is evolving as we navigate the complexities of access, current capacity, and guidance from the State. Please know that this on-going work reflects a thoughtful and thorough process that includes daily collaboration with teachers, principals, and specialists to identify needs, build skills, coordinate services, and align practices across levels. We continue to be dedicated to providing effective and meaningful virtual and hands-on learning for our students throughout this time. 
     
    E-learning is, of course, technology-dependent, and we are cognizant that while most families have personal technology devices in their homes, others do not have enough to facilitate parents and children working from home simultaneously. We have received a number of these requests already. An email, that will be sent to all parents, will include a link to request appropriate devices if needed. We hope to distribute these devices on Thursday. 
     
    We also recognize that students and families may need emotional assistance during this very difficult time. If you are experiencing anxiety or stress and you feel you need support, please call the Department of Community Mental Health office at (914) 995-1900. In addition, the District's mental health professionals are available to support your children. Counselors can be reached via email contacts found on our District webpage [click here] for each school.
     
    Lastly, today the Governor tasked schools with providing daycare for children of healthcare professionals and first responders, as well as providing food for any families in need during this crisis. The District is in the process of developing plans to accomplish these services.   
     
    As always, we sincerely appreciate your continued support and understanding. Together we will get through this challenging time due to the strength of our partnership as a school community and our deep and enduring commitment to the success of each of our students.  

    Morning Update: March 16th, 2020 

    Westchester County Executive George Latimer is expected to announce this afternoon that he will order a countywide closure of schools as part of declaring a State of Emergency in Westchester.

    Mr. Latimer held a conference call with superintendents this morning to finalize plans. At this time it is likely that all 44 school districts in Westchester County will close for two weeks, effective Wednesday, with the possibility of extended closures. 

    Most districts across the region closed schools today and tomorrow, and some have already announced that they will close for several weeks.

    Scarsdale School District is committed to keeping our community informed to the best of our ability in spite of rapidly changing and evolving information. We will send further details later today regarding the impending announcement and the subsequent decision about closure. Families can also continue to expect to hear from us throughout the week, Monday through Friday, via later afternoon/early evening updates.

    We wish everyone in our community the best of health and peace of mind to cope with this very difficult situation.

    March 13th, 2020

    While most of today’s update will focus on e-learning, we would first like to update you with regards to Middle School COVID-19 testing, communication with the Department of Health, and continued consideration of the reopening of school.

    The District has started to receive notice from staff and families about the results of their testing. At this time, all testing (aside from the original staff member) has been negative, and we are awaiting results from approximately half of the cases. The District is continuing to communicate with the DoH with regards to expediting the testing and gaining clarity on their recommendations for future steps. 

    Additionally, many families are understandably concerned about whether schools will be able to reopen next Thursday. At this time, we still plan to reopen on the 19th of March. However, we also know this plan is contingent on a number of factors that we don’t have answers to at this time. These factors include results of the outstanding COVID-19 testing, possible decisions by State and local government around regional closings, and considerations around the ability of staff and students to attend. We will be monitoring this throughout the weekend, and will provide an update based on what we learn on Monday, March 16th.

    As for the school calendar and our required days of session (180, by law), there is really no change from what we previously shared with the community. As of now, we are planning on school being in session on April 6, April 13, and May 22. Even with today’s announcement from Governor Cuomo that the 180-day requirement may be suspended, it would still be dependent upon reclaiming planned vacation days. We will continue to monitor and report any new developments as they occur.

    Our Approach to e-Learning:

    Although not yet completely underway, we have been receiving some feedback on our approach to e-learning to date. It is important to note that we arrived at our current approach through careful consideration of the circumstances, assessment of our capabilities, beliefs about what can be meaningfully accomplished from a distance, and an understanding of what we know about appropriate uses of technology and the developmental stages of our learners. Below, each of these considerations is explained in more detail so that we can provide as much clarity as possible about how we arrived at this plan. 

    While some expect our approach to mirror college and university experiences with distance learning and/or professional work-from-home arrangements, educating K-12 students in a digital environment requires much different planning and preparation in that it must include specifically-designed, developmentally-appropriate curriculum, materials, and activities, based on using digital platforms (a novel experience for younger learners).  

    Since the beginning of this process, our approach has been focused on asynchronous (not simultaneous) learning due to the following considerations:

    • It is not feasible to maintain normal school schedules at home for most students and teachers which is necessary for synchronous learning; however, some teachers are creating “virtual office hours” and “live” check-ins.
    • Access to learning activities and assignments should account for the likelihood of competition for limited simultaneous access to technology resources within a family (i.e, devices, internet bandwidth).
    • The recognition that our teachers are balancing professional responsibilities along with the complexities of having to supervise their own children due to school closures.
    • The need for teacher creativity in methods of engagement with students due to the varying needs of students like age, ability, and specific curriculum, rather than a one platform fits all approach.

    As such, our teachers have been working diligently and collaborating to create online activities that are a continuation of where individual classes were in the curriculum and that support our students in moving their skills forward. These lessons and activities are designed to be completed independently, whenever possible. 

    As always, we are asking parents to partner with us throughout this plan to provide the resources, space, and encouragement for your children to engage in learning activities, complete assignments, and ask questions of their teachers, if they are unclear about expectations.

    Our commitment going forward is to continue to evaluate the effectiveness, efficiency, and plausibility of our current model. To that end, if our closure extends, we will be collecting feedback from our teachers, students, and families about both the challenges and successes of Scarsdale’s current e-learning approach. 

    It has been interesting to hear from our colleagues in districts throughout the region about their plans as school closures have grown exponentially. Many have expressed that they are modeling their own plans on what they have seen in Scarsdale. Further, we also learned that many districts are having to collectively bargain their expectations with teacher unions. From the beginning, the Scarsdale Teachers Association and its membership have collaboratively engaged with the District in this unique moment so their students can remain engaged in the work of the classroom, and has stepped up from the first moments of this crisis to develop meaningful learning experiences for students. It truly takes a Village, and we appreciate the wrap-around support!

    [The remainder is a recap from Wednesday’s update, but it contains important information, so please read, if you were not able to earlier.]

    Education Continuity Plan Supported by Technology

    The District offers a suite of online instructional tools that can be used to support remote instruction and communication. General instructional tools for communicating with students include online services like:

    • Google Drive with shared folders 
    • GSuite (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Classroom, Sites)
    • Gmail 
    • Schoolwires
    • Seesaw
    • Schoology

    Note: Keep in mind that Scarsdale Public Library online resources are available remotely and can be accessed by students who have a Scarsdale library card.

    Elementary:

    Platform: Faculty will use online tools, including Google Drive with shared folders, the GSuite (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Classroom, Sites), Schoolwires, and Seesaw, for communicating with students. This includes the posting of assignments and general announcements.

    We recognize that providing e-learning at the elementary level has unique challenges, especially for our youngest students. Our classrooms are carefully designed learning spaces with immediate access to appropriate resources and technology. For that reason, we have been finalizing guidelines and curating resources that would best support meaningful, independent learning. Our hope is that our students will work to the best of their ability and with the resources already available to them at home. 

    This morning, classroom teachers participated in videoconference meetings by grade level with curriculum coordinators and District administration. Through these meetings, we guided teachers to provide students with daily independent activities in four core instructional areas: reading, writing, mathematics, and science (25-30 minutes in each). Social studies may be worked into reading and writing times. We have also encouraged teachers to use professional discretion in how the time is allocated. For example, if teachers feel that it is more appropriate to focus on one area more than others, based on their current curriculum sequence, they have been encouraged to do so. The key is that each class has the opportunity to do work that is meaningful and enhances student learning.

    In addition, activities will be provided in the areas of art, music, and (for upper elementary grades), Spanish. And while the formal eLearning has been scheduled to start on Monday, a select number of learning and enrichment activities and suggestions will be sent out tomorrow morning from the District as a way to prepare for Monday’s official start. 

    As Monday approaches, teachers and special education providers will be reaching out directly to families to provide direction and appropriate learning activities.

    Middle School:

    Platform: Faculty will use Schoology as the platform for communicating with students. This includes the posting of assignments and general announcements. 

    The Middle School faculty is committed to providing ongoing instruction for students during our closure. This commitment also extends to students who are in mandatory quarantine while school is open. We recognize that distance learning is not a replacement for face-to-face instruction, but it does provide an opportunity for students to be engaged and continue to learn while they are home.  

    The expectation is that each of the five subject-area classes will provide approximately 20-25 minutes of instruction per day. Because there are varying levels of support available at home, there will be flexibility regarding work completion and deadlines. Faculty may use Schoology to create assessments for students that gauge knowledge and understanding but these would not count towards the student’s overall grade average.

    Scarsdale High School:

    Platform: Faculty will use tools like Schoolwires, Google Classroom, Gmail and the GSuite for communicating with students. This includes the posting of assignments and general announcements.

    At the High School level, teachers will begin sending and posting information to students on Thursday and Friday this week. These materials are designed to provide enrichment, to activate previous learning, and to help students organize and plan their schedules for the days until school re-opens. As you know, the situation continues to be fluid, and the change in start date is a reflection of the dedication and flexibility of our teachers and staff, as well as their eagerness to engage with students during this disruption. 

    To that end, students should be checking their school email accounts as well as their teachers’ pages on Schoolwires (the school website), and Google Classroom. In the coming days, their teachers will indicate the primary means of communication and content delivery for each class. 

    We are doing our best to provide continuity of education during this difficult time. We recognize that distance learning cannot fully replace the learning experiences students and teachers have when they are in school. Please know that we will be making adaptations, as appropriate, to our plan in response to evolving situations and guidance from the State.

    March 12th, 2020

    We would like to start off again today by saying that we are thankful for our Scarsdale families' patience as we work through a host of complex issues related to a prolonged closure due to COVID-19. We attempt to craft these daily updates around the major questions and concerns that we continue to hear. Today's update will address our specific cleaning practices, social-emotional support related to our students' well-being, Special Education and ELL Services, and on-going calendar considerations.

    But first, we once again must reiterate that we strongly recommend social-distancing while our students are out of school. We implore our families to practice appropriate social-distancing and urge everyone to practice good germ hygiene. Preventative measures are only effective if we embrace and implement them as a community.

    Specific Cleaning Practices:
    We have been asked to detail some of the specifics regarding the deep cleaning of our schools.

    First, it is important to remember that cleaning and disinfecting our schools are a regular part of our custodial team's responsibilities. They have also been trained on all CDC and DoH guidelines for proper cleaning and disposal methods. The District has made disposable gloves and facemasks available for our custodial team to use, as well as the supplies needed to properly disinfect all areas. Moreover, all staff has been briefed on the products being used, any precautions that may need to be taken, along with reminders of proper practices like handwashing, limited touching of faces, covering for sneezes and coughs, and the like.
     
    The products being used for cleaning, include Morning Mist and Concrobium, which are hospital-grade, broad-spectrum disinfectants. Morning Mist comes in a trigger bottle that is sprayed onto surfaces and left to dwell (3-5 minutes) before wiping away. We're also using a diluted Morning Mist solution applied to surfaces with a rag. The wiping method is used for boards, handrails, and most other vertical surfaces. When applied this way, it is allowed to air dry. We also use a spray only method (no wiping away) on phones, light switches, and door hardware. We are using the Concrobium product in our atomizing foggers. This is a new product for the District. It's a "green," botanical-based liquid that can be fogged in a ULV fogger. We use this to supplement the use of Morning Mist and to apply disinfectant in hard to reach areas. With this product, we are able to "fog" entire spaces. Again, there is no wiping necessary, ensuring a long dwell time. The combination of the two products guarantees that everything in any given room is covered, including books, papers, equipment, floors, desks, ceilings, and the like.

    Social-Emotional Support:
    District administration has been coordinating with the PE teachers and psychologists to develop materials and guidance for parents on social-emotional and physical well-being during this closure. This was sent out on the elementary level today along with resource links and independent reading suggestions. 
     
    There will be a Middle School communication forthcoming that will provide specific information and resources on student wellness, social-emotional, and mental health issues. 
     
    Our High School Counseling Department has also been reaching out to High School students on issues ranging from SAT testing, to college visitations, to course enrollment for next year. We ask that students and parents reach out directly to their dean(s) for specific questions or concerns.
     
    The District has also been in touch with the Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service regarding our Youth Services project. The school-based social workers associated with the project are in contact with their students and families to offer support.   

    Special Education and Section 504 Services
    As our e-learning plan rolls out, Special Education providers will be reaching out directly to the families and students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Section 504 plans. All direct and related service providers (LRC, speech, occupational/physical therapy, and counselors) have met and developed plans that include the following:
    • Appropriate skill-building work and/or differentiation of classroom teacher assignments;
    • Clear guidance on how to contact them in case of questions or concerns; and
    • Regular check-ins to consult on how to help children continue to improve their skills while at home.
    Initial individual communication started today and will continue through tomorrow and Monday.  We encourage all parents who have questions to reach out to any of their providers via email. Additionally, we are aware that a number of CSE and 504 meetings were postponed during this closing, these will be rescheduled when we return.  In the event of further closures, we will be developing a plan to complete these meetings virtually using technology. We truly appreciate the community's engagement and involvement!

    ELL (English Language Learner) Update:
    District administrators have met (virtually) with District-wide ELL teachers to coordinate the delivery of services. The teachers of English Language Learners will be directly reaching out to our ELL students to provide the following resources and supports:
    • Checks of understanding for classroom assignments;
    • Activities for practice and skill-building; and
    • Opportunities to connect in case of questions and concerns.

    Calendar Considerations:
    If nothing else changes (and that's a big "if" right now), we do expect to have to recover three days of session. Right now, we anticipate recommending April 6, April 13, and May 22 for the makeup days. While inconvenient, this avoids holding school during the Passover holiday. This is subject to change based on guidance from the NYS Department of Education. We expect updates on this within the next few days.


    We are currently discussing the best way to handle K-2 parent-teacher conferences, and hope to provide an update tomorrow on a path forward. The same holds true for the issuance of report cards.
     
    Finally, there is no word as of yet from NYSED regarding the ELA assessments planned for the end of March. Leaders within the County have expressed the need for contingencies, and we hope to learn something in the near future.

     

    March 11th, 2020

    The District continues to recommend social-distancing while our students are out of school.  Scarsdale is home to many citizens who are more vulnerable to COVID-19; reports of students gathering in large numbers and some posting their disregard for the risks associated with the current outbreak have reached the administration. While the District doesn't control what happens outside of school, we implore families to practice appropriate social-distancing and keep student and adult interactions to small groups and for everyone to practice good germ hygiene. Preventative measures are only effective if we embrace and implement them as a community.

    The remainder of today’s update will focus on eLearning opportunities for students. First, we would like to say that we are thankful for our Scarsdale families’ patience and support as we finalize our eLearning plan that is developmentally appropriate, meaningful, and responsive to the needs of our K-12 students. We are also thankful to our collaborative educators and administrators, who have been expertly mobilizing to respond to the educational needs during this unique and challenging time.  

    Education Continuity Plan Supported by Technology

    The District offers a suite of online instructional tools that can be used to support remote instruction and communication. General instructional tools for communicating with students include online services like:

    • Google Drive with shared folders 
    • GSuite (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Classroom, Sites)
    • Gmail 
    • Schoolwires
    • Seesaw
    • Schoology

    Note: Keep in mind that Scarsdale Public Library online resources are available remotely and can be accessed by students who have a Scarsdale library card.

    Elementary:

    Platform: Faculty will use online tools, including Google Drive with shared folders, the GSuite (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Classroom, Sites), Schoolwires, and Seesaw, for communicating with students. This includes the posting of assignments and general announcements.

    We recognize that providing e-learning at the elementary level has unique challenges, especially for our youngest students. Our classrooms are carefully designed learning spaces with immediate access to appropriate resources and technology. For that reason, we have been finalizing guidelines and curating resources that would best support meaningful, independent learning. Our hope is that our students will work to the best of their ability and with the resources already available to them at home. 

    This morning, classroom teachers participated in videoconference meetings by grade level with curriculum coordinators and District administration. Through these meetings, we guided teachers to provide students with daily independent activities in four core instructional areas: reading, writing, mathematics, and science (25-30 minutes in each). Social studies may be worked into reading and writing times. We have also encouraged teachers to use professional discretion in how the time is allocated. For example, if teachers feel that it is more appropriate to focus on one area more than others, based on their current curriculum sequence, they have been encouraged to do so. The key is that each class has the opportunity to do work that is meaningful and enhances student learning.

    In addition, activities will be provided in the areas of art, music, and (for upper elementary grades), Spanish. And while the formal eLearning has been scheduled to start on Monday, a select number of learning and enrichment activities and suggestions will be sent out tomorrow morning from the District as a way to prepare for Monday’s official start. 

    As Monday approaches, teachers and special education providers will be reaching out directly to families to provide direction and appropriate learning activities.

    Middle School:

    Platform: Faculty will use Schoology as the platform for communicating with students. This includes the posting of assignments and general announcements. 

    The Middle School faculty is committed to providing ongoing instruction for students during our closure. This commitment also extends to students who are in mandatory quarantine while school is open. We recognize that distance learning is not a replacement for face-to-face instruction, but it does provide an opportunity for students to be engaged and continue to learn while they are home.  

    The expectation is that each of the five subject-area classes will provide approximately 20-25 minutes of instruction per day. Because there are varying levels of support available at home, there will be flexibility regarding work completion and deadlines. Faculty may use Schoology to create assessments for students that gauge knowledge and understanding but these would not count towards the student’s overall grade average.

    Scarsdale High School:

    Platform: Faculty will use tools like Schoolwires, Google Classroom, Gmail and the GSuite for communicating with students. This includes the posting of assignments and general announcements.

    At the High School level, teachers will begin sending and posting information to students on Thursday and Friday this week. These materials are designed to provide enrichment, to activate previous learning, and to help students organize and plan their schedules for the days until school re-opens. As you know, the situation continues to be fluid, and the change in start date is a reflection of the dedication and flexibility of our teachers and staff, as well as their eagerness to engage with students during this disruption. 

    To that end, students should be checking their school email accounts as well as their teachers’ pages on Schoolwires (the school website), and Google Classroom. In the coming days, their teachers will indicate the primary means of communication and content delivery for each class. 

    We are doing our best to provide continuity of education during this difficult time. We recognize that distance learning cannot fully replace the learning experiences students and teachers have when they are in school. Please know that we will be making adaptations, as appropriate, to our plan in response to evolving situations and guidance from the State. 

     

    Important Information from the Department of Health

    March 10th, 2020

    Yesterday, the NYS Department of Health (NYS DoH) and the NYS Department of Education issued further guidance to schools. In it, they state, “that early, broad and sustained community containment strategies are effective in reducing the spread of the virus. These community containment interventions are scalable and flexible so that local public health and education authorities can use these tools based on the local situation.” The school closure, suspension of meetings and activities, and precautions against gathering that we have urged reflect our use of some of the interventions available to us to make every attempt to reduce disease transmission and associated illness during this outbreak. The goal, of course, is the regular resumption of school on Thursday, March 19.

    Unfortunately, earlier today the Governor announced the need for a “containment zone” in New Rochelle, indicating that more aggressive steps were necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. While details and specifics about the enforcement of this “zone” are still not clear, we do know the containment area is in close proximity to the Scarsdale School District and reinforces the recommendations given to us by the County Department of Health. When more information is released, we will assess the potential impact this action may have on our community.  

    Additionally, the District was informed earlier that the County Department of Health (DoH) has identified and reached out to all close contacts of the affected faculty member. From our understanding, neither the Butler 7 students nor the larger faculty will be contacted by the DoH at this time. That leaves a total of 36 faculty, students, and parents who have been asked to quarantine for 14 days, starting from March 4, the date of their last contact with the affected staff member. All 36 have either already been tested, or will be tested for COVID-19 over the coming days. While we hope that each testing result is negative, it is possible that one or more could prove positive. That outcome would require additional testing and investigation. Given that possibility, we are continuing to recommend that our families take precautions to limit their interactions and practice the social distancing explained in our previous communication(s). Please understand that District Administration and the faculty are operating under the same recommendations.

    We understand that community members may want additional information and/or have continued questions, and some have questioned the cancellation of planned Board and public meetings. Given the guidance and restrictions we have received, the District feels strongly that any public meetings, including Board meetings, would run counter to these recommendations. As an alternate, the District and building administration are working diligently to answer any questions which are received via email. We are also making sure that frequently expressed questions and concerns are addressed in our wider communications. We strongly encourage the community to continue to contact us via email with any questions or concerns, and follow our regular updates for responses.

    Finally, planning for e-learning is well underway. The Curriculum Office is currently coordinating with building administration, department chairs, and curriculum leadership to finalize a plan (by grade and school levels) to engage students and families in distance learning opportunities. While the anticipated official start of e-learning is Monday, March 16th, educators across the District are mobilizing to provide resources and direction to students by this Thursday, March 12th. More detailed information will be communicated in tomorrow’s update.

    We thank you for your continued patience in this difficult time, and ask that you continue to follow the guidance we have provided along with any recommendations offered by our local and State governments.

    Please stay tuned in the days ahead for more information regarding the following areas:

    • Saturday’s SAT Testing
    • ELA State Testing
    • Parent/Teacher Conferences scheduled on March 19th for grades K-2
    • Elementary Report Cards and Middle School Mid-Quarter Progress Reports
       

    March 9th, 2020

    First and foremost, we would like to thank our students, staff, and parents for their continued patience and understanding. This extended closure is a difficult time for all, and we know there are many questions and concerns still out there. We have and will continue to use this as a platform to address as many of these issues as possible.

    Since our communication last night the District has continued to work with the Department of Health (DoH) officials and with Administration on the three priorities of health and safety, deep cleaning/disinfection, and continuation of learning for students. Many questions have surfaced with regard to this closure, and we are doing our best to respond to those inquiries.  

    Health and Safety:

    • All students and staff who had close contact with the affected faculty member have now been contacted by the District. Additionally, those names and their contact information have been provided to the Westchester County DoH, at their request. 
    • The DoH is in the process of contacting those people. The District has advised them that they will likely be told to self-quarantine and provided them with guidance to follow until they are contacted by DoH.
    • In addition to those who came into close contact, the faculty member also attended a faculty meeting and spent a short time in the cafeteria during Butler 7 lunch. Out of an abundance of caution, the DoH has asked us to provide the names of all faculty in attendance at the meeting and all students in Butler 7. We ask that these groups maintain social distancing and avoid contact with vulnerable populations until told otherwise by the DoH. 
    • We are asking all of our families to maintain social distancing practices during this school closure.  These include: 
      • Limiting playdates/get-togethers and certainly any larger gatherings of students or students and adults;
      • Not having students provide babysitting services to other students; and
      • Not scheduling practices for sports teams or meetings for any clubs.

    Cleaning:

    • We have completed cleaning in the Middle and High Schools and are currently disinfecting all of our other school buildings.
    • Transportation is also deep cleaning all buses and other District vehicles.
    • Special attention is being paid to any areas where the affected faculty member may have been.

    Continuity of Education:

    • The District recognizes that the education that normally occurs in a classroom cannot be replicated at home. Therefore, e-learning will focus on ensuring students have the ability to practice and hone their skills and participate in educationally beneficial activities during any closure.
    • Teachers are planning and developing plans for Monday’s role out of e-learning.
    • There will be communication from specific schools later this week to provide specifics.
    • The District is working to make sure that the work students receive while out of school is appropriate and valuable.  
    • During this intervening week, we would encourage students to spend time engaging in passion-driven learning activities and use the time to engage in reading for pleasure.

    Other Questions:

    • We are starting to work toward anticipating the potential impact this closure may have on the school calendar, testing, and the end of the school year. Obviously, some changes won’t be up to us, but to the State. In the meantime, it is not unreasonable to begin to anticipate that we might need to use some of the remaining vacation days to make up for lost instructional time. As per the calendar, “In the event make-up school days are needed, the District schools will use, in the following order: Friday, May 22nd, Monday, April 13th, Thursday, April 9th, Wednesday, April 8th.” We will notify the community as soon as possible if the use of such days is necessary.
    • All lunch orders will be automatically canceled while school is out of session, no action on the part of parents is required.

    The District will continue to work with all of our partners to take any additional steps needed and keep the community informed through this platform.  We encourage you to look at the links below for the latest information on quarantine procedures and COVID-19 testing from the New York State Department of Health. As always we encourage you to reach out if you have any further questions.

    Important Information from the Department of Health

    Coronavirus Update: March 8th, 2020

    This evening the District was informed that a faculty member at the Middle School tested positive today for COVID-19. The District is working with the Department of Health (DoH) to discuss the full extent of precautions that we should be taking. We have spoken with the Westchester County Health Commissioner this evening, and she recommended that we close our schools in an abundance of caution and take additional remedial measures as outlined below. Therefore, we will be closing all District schools from March 9-18, 2020, for continued cleaning, progress monitoring, and social-distancing. 

    The impacted faculty member is exhibiting mild illness, and the District's response is designed to demonstrate vigilance and recognition of individuals who may be immuno-compromised. The DoH indicates that individuals of primary concern would be those who experienced direct, close contact with the affected faculty member. 

     We are approaching this closure with the following priorities:

    • The first priority is the health and safety of those potentially impacted. We are already working with DoH Officials to contact any families who DoH officials feel need to be notified and given guidance for further actions. This communication will be ongoing and is likely to take time to complete, please understand that the Administration and DoH are working as fast as possible, but we must make sure that the information provided to families is correct. 
    • Our second priority is to complete the thorough disinfection of all buildings, so as to minimize the possibility of contamination in our instructional spaces, common spaces, offices, etc.
    • Our third priority is to complete the development of systems and plans for continued instruction so that our faculty is ready to engage in e-learning starting Monday, March 16.

    We recognize that this news will be concerning to many of our students and families. We ask that medical questions be directed to your family doctor/healthcare provider. Although staff will not be reporting to District buildings, principals and Central Office administrators will be available through email, and we will make every attempt to address your questions and concerns, as time allows.

    Please note that a District-wide closure means all school-activities, meetings, and events, including sports, PTC events, etc. are canceled. We do not have any information on the makeup of any of these activities at this point. This will be communicated when, and if, these activities are rescheduled.

     
    Please stay tuned for updates as the next weeks unfold. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time.
     
    Important Information from the Department of Health
    • DOH Website

    • DOH Hotline and Phone Numbers:

      • People under self-quarantine or exposure to known case, call (866) 588-0195

      • NYS Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline (888) 364-3065

      • Westchester County COVID-19 Information Call 211

     

    Additional Resources

     
     

    March 7th, 2020

    Throughout last night and today, the District has been communicating with the Department of Health and received word that the initial determination regarding a Scarsdale Youth Hockey Association (SYHA) team was changed. The team members who played on the same SYHA team as the student who tested positive will be asked to quarantine for 14 days from their last encounter with the player. At this time, there are no students or staff in the Scarsdale Schools who have tested positive for COVID-19. The School District will work with the families involved to support them in any way possible. The Department of Health has given the families specific guidance as to how to implement these quarantines and how the rest of the family should travel and participate in day-to-day activities. The families will need the support of our entire community to help them through this time. We ask that all members of our community respect these families' privacy and encourage their children to do the same.  

    We understand that cleaning is an essential component of containing the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. It should be noted that Scarsdale’s “flu season” cleaning practices have been in place since prior to the February break and were enhanced on February 27th.  These enhancements include daily disinfection of high-touch surfaces and bathrooms, and a regular twice-weekly disinfection schedule for all surfaces in each building. Additionally, given the current developments, the custodial staff has begun a thorough cleaning and disinfection of both the Middle and High Schools and all activities scheduled to take place in District buildings will be canceled Sunday, March 8, 2020, in order to complete this work.

    At this time, Scarsdale Schools plan to open on Monday with a regular schedule.  As always, the Administration will be monitoring the situation throughout the weekend and will communicate if there are any changes.  

    The coming weeks will undoubtedly bring additional cases of COVID-19 to our region and additional quarantines, some of which will impact our schools.  We will continue to work with the Department of Health to safeguard student safety, operating from the position that health and safety are always the District’s top priorities, guiding every decision. Beyond this, we are also dedicated to supporting our community by maintaining routines and providing as much normalcy as possible to our students and families.

     

     

    March 6th, 2020

    Afternoon Update

    Good Afternoon Scarsdale Families,

    First, in reference to our morning message, we have received word from the County Department of Health that the students involved with the Scarsdale Youth Hockey League have been advised they are not subject to quarantine and should return to their normal activities.  We appreciate the cooperation of the Scarsdale Youth Hockey League, our students, and their families. 

    Based on both what we know and what remains unknown about the current coronavirus outbreak, and the evolving nature of the situation in Westchester County, we have decided to cancel the regional Science Olympiad competition at Scarsdale Middle School scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, March 7, 2020). The anticipated attendance at the event (in excess of 1,000 people) and broad spread of participants from throughout the region has caused us to conclude that there would likely be an increased level of risk posed to attendees and the larger community.  While we regret the disruption and the impact it will have on all the teams who have worked extremely hard to prepare for this event, we must place the health and safety of all our communities first.

    The decision to cancel the Science Olympiad should not be interpreted as a signal about other events. The number of anticipated attendees, as well as the number of locations they were coming from, make this a unique event. We will continue to consider the potential risks associated with all of our planned activities on a case-by-case basis within the context of information available as the situation continues to unfold.

    Decisions related to short- or long- term school closures are dependent upon the fact pattern in our school community, as well as the advice of State and local health officials.  While the District is not planning any school closures at this time, today, representative groups of teachers and administrators met to develop plans in case of an extended closure. It is important to note that we believe that the best educational environment is the classroom setting, though some type of e-learning may be necessary in limited circumstances to practice and hone skills, engage students in independent reading and research, and extend prior learning. Expectations for e-learning must also be appropriate and reasonable for students, teachers, and students’ families. As the plan for continuity of education becomes more solidified, we will share additional information with the community.  

    Finally, as we work our way through the day-by-day, hour-by-hour decisions and actions that we are undertaking to keep the Scarsdale Schools community safe during this difficult time, we ask everyone to pause for a brief moment to catch our collective breath, and reflect on the word “community.” The Scarsdale Schools community has always been a place of inclusion, respect, and kindness. It is up to all of us to make sure that these values we cherish are preserved through the tumult, and in the midst of the understandable anxiety that sometimes clouds our vision. Together, we can work through any challenges that lie ahead, and look forward to a return to normalcy down the road.

     

    Morning Update

    Rumors of a confirmed COVID-19 case involving a Scarsdale student are unfounded. Last evening, the District received information about the Scarsdale Youth Hockey League. It has been reported that there is a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 involving a student in another district, who participates with Scarsdale students, although this has not yet been confirmed by the Department of Health. The impacted Scarsdale youth hockey families are in direct contact with the County Health Department and their family doctors. These students are not attending school today.  

    The District has been in direct contact with the families and has encouraged them to follow all Department of Health guidance and act with an abundance of caution. At this point, the Department of Health has not rendered a decision with regards to quarantine to our knowledge. The District will continue to work in concert with the Department of Health and the families as the situation unfolds.  

    Schools are operating as normal, and we are continuing the enhanced cleaning procedures that have been in place including the disinfection of all of our buildings on a regular basis. The coming days may bring more news of cases close to home. Know that we will continue to follow up on any concerns in conjunction with the Health Department, and will generate regular updates to the community.

    Individuals and groups throughout our community have been vigilant about notifying the District with their concerns. Some of that information has been extremely helpful and enabled accelerated information gathering and communication, and some have been inaccurate. As District and school leaders, we encourage you to continue sharing information you may encounter, but we also urge you to resist jumping to conclusions in the absence of factual or verified information.

     

     

    March 5th, 2020

    The past 24 hours have brought a number of new Coronavirus cases to lower Westchester along with some school closures. Upwards of 1000 people have now been placed on self-quarantine (by DoH) and more cases are expected in the future. Unfortunately, this has been accompanied by rumors about whether families are under quarantine and judgements about whether families should or should not be. 

    Two public school districts have closed for deep cleaning due to varying degrees of contact to people associated with cases of COVID-19. This was done independently of the DoH. Additionally, three private schools in Westchester have also closed due to confirmed cases of students with COVID-19. These closings were done with guidance from the DoH. While this may be alarming to our full school community, we must also be thoughtful and measured in our responses.

    At this time, the District is not planning to close schools or cancel after school activities, including field trips. This decision is based on the current situation and on the conversations with State and local authorities. Additionally, the District continues to follow up with any families who have questions or concerns regarding contact with Coronavirus, ensuring that they are following up with their family physicians or the Department of Health, as appropriate, and that they are following all guidance they receive. As of this time, the District does not have knowledge of any students who are under self-quarantine.

    Along with over 70 other school administrators, the District participated this morning on a call with the New York State Departments of Health and Education about the COVID-19 outbreak.  The conversation covered a wide range of issues, including quarantine procedures, cleaning procedures, and school/activity limitations/cancellation. The conversation supplied some guidance which is worthy of sharing with our school community:

    Quarantine:

    • At this time, the State Department of Health, in conjunction with Westchester County, is self-quarantining all people who have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
    • The County and State Departments of Health are informing schools if staff or students are part of a quarantine.  
    • There are no quarantines in effect for people who have had contact with the people who are self-quarantined, including family members.
    • School districts were reminded that they do not have the authority to restrict those not under quarantine from school.  Only the State or local departments of Health have that authority.

    Cleaning Procedures:

    • Written guidance was provided on cleaning procedures to all districts in New York State.  
    • School districts must still abide by regulations regarding chemicals used in schools unless specifically addressed in the new guidance.

    School/Activity Cancelations:

    • At this time, the departments of Health and Education are not recommending school closures, unless advised by the Department of Health.
    • There is a recommendation to curtail international travel for students sponsored by schools, and we are adhering to this advice.
    • There is ongoing discussion about the use of preemptive school and large group activity cancelation in the future.

    Since the beginning of this outbreak, the District has been developing contingency plans and working with its partners to address the concerns of students, parents, staff, and community members.  Today the Administrative Council met to discuss District response to date on the Coronavirus and plan for future contingencies:

    Cleaning:

    • We verified our cleaning procedures are in-line with State Guidance
    • All principals were briefed on and discussed the current cleaning procedures and how to assure continued regular disinfection.   
    • The District is planning for contingencies regarding the availability of supplies and manpower.

    Absences:

    • We will continue to treat absences with compassion and empathy.  
    • Any student who is absent for medical reasons or quarantine related to Coronavirus (there are currently none in the District), or any student whose physician is recommending absence due to underlying medical reasons will be treated as an excused absence.  
    • Any children absent, by family choice, due to concern about Coronavirus will count as an unexcused absence, but the District will not impose any penalty on students.  
    • In the case of unexcused absences arrangements cannot be made for daily lessons to be sent home, but teachers will work with students to catch up once they return to school.

    Communications:

    • There will be continued daily updates will be posted on the school website until the situation becomes more normalized
    • The District is developing an FAQ for common Coronavirus questions regarding school topics
    • Plans for remote communications are in place for staff, parents, and administrators if there is a need to close schools.

    Planning for Educational Continuity, if closures are needed:

    • Groups of elementary, middle, and high school teachers are meeting tomorrow to develop specific plans regarding educational continuity.
    • These teams will be working with the recognition that the education that normally occurs in a classroom cannot be replicated at home. Therefore, the planning will focus on ensuring students have the ability to practice and hone their skills, and participate in educationally beneficial activities during any closure.

    The District will continue to monitor the situation, consult relevant guidance, and inform the community of changes.  It is important to note that for many, school provides normalcy and predictability, particularly in times of fear and instability. Each day, we engage your children in a warm, nurturing, challenging environment. We intend to proceed in this fashion unless and until the situation demands a change.  In the meantime, we ask families to continue to help their children process the current situation in honest and developmentally appropriate ways. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns. 

     

    March 4th, 2020

    Additional cases of COVID-19 have been identified in New Rochelle today. The County has taken steps to quarantine people who had contact with the originally identified case. We have been informed by the State Health Department that the school will not receive notification of the people who are quarantined due to privacy laws.  There are most likely community members who may be affected by these quarantines. We encourage all families to abide by the Department of Health recommendations and contact your children’s school for support.

    Today, the District and Village met to discuss coordination of efforts and plan the upcoming joint Board dinner prior to the regular Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 9th. The Coronavirus will be a major topic of discussion during this meeting. The District is continuing to monitor the situation and any guidance from government agencies. 

    Several parents and staff have brought up confusion over the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Under normal operating conditions, our schools do not supply or encourage the use of these products. The District can use these sanitizers with the permission of our school physician. As such, we are allowing and encouraging staff and students to bring and use their own hand sanitizers. The District has placed orders for hand sanitizer but given the current situation, we are unsure of how much of the product we can obtain or on what timeline. The District will supply as our ability to obtain these products allow. We ask that if you are sending younger children in with these products you instruct them in their proper use and impress upon them the need to use it appropriately.  

    At this time, there are no plans for cancellation of either school, local trips, or extracurricular activities however, the situation is rapidly unfolding and the District is revisiting these questions on a daily basis. 

    March 3rd, 2020

    Earlier today there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Westchester and it is suspected that this is the first case of community transmission in New York State. The person identified is not a resident of Scarsdale. Two private schools in Westchester have closed which are suspected to have a connection to the person in question. These schools have students from all over the county including Scarsdale. The District is investigating any links between these schools and our students, and is working with our transportation department to ensure that any vehicles that transport students to these schools are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before further use. Additionally, the transportation department will regularly disinfect all District buses.

    Monitoring:

    The District continues to:

    • Monitor and seek guidance from relevant agencies with regards to Coronavirus.
    • Follow up with any residents or staff who we know have traveled to affected areas.
    • Follow up with any residents or staff who have concerns about District response.


    Cleaning/Germ Hygiene:

    • The District continues to follow our flu season protocols for cleaning with include enhanced cleaning of solid surfaces, common areas, bathrooms, and classrooms.  There is daily disinfection of doorknobs, phones, light switches, and faucets. This enhanced cleaning will continue indefinitely.
    • Teachers and staff have been instructed to encourage students to wash hands and practice good germ hygiene especially before and after eating and after restroom use.
    • Additional signage is being hung throughout our schools to remind students about proper germ hygiene and handwashing.
    • Please keep children who are feeling sick at home and seek medical attention if they are experiencing any of the symptoms related to COVID 19 (Novel Coronavirus).  These symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and aches and pains.


    What can you do as families:

    • Encourage your children to use good germ hygiene, wash hands, and encourage them to remind their friends to do the same.
    • Answer any questions your children ask honestly with age-appropriate language and reassure them that the adults are doing everything they can to make sure they are safe.
    • Remind children to respect the privacy of their peers and their families and that using Coronavirus as a subject of humor is not appropriate.
    • Be calm in front of children and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” when they ask questions that don’t have easy answers.
    • Try to reduce the spread of rumors by getting information from reputable sources and checking with local or school officials before passing partial or inaccurate information along.

    The District will continue to work with the community to protect our students. Our best chance to limit the spread of this virus is for us to work together through clear and accurate communication, effective hygienic practice, and following the guidelines set out by our local health officials.  


    Resources

    Coronavirus Information from the CDC

     

    Previous communication to families:

    February 26th update

    February 24th update

    January 30th update