• September 13, 2022

    Good morning,

    Please be aware that due to the recent rains, conditions around town might cause a little slow going today. The High School brook has flooded as it usually does and will cause some diversions and difficulty parking for some of us.

    The PTA's, "Off and Away for The Day- Parent Cell Phone Workshop" scheduled for this morning will continue as planned. There will be a second workshop tomorrow at 7 p.m.

    Please be patient at each of our schools as we get the morning started and reach out to us if you have any issues or problems that we can help to address.

    Thank you,
    Dr. Drew Patrick
    Interim Superintendent

    September 1, 2022

    Dear Parents, Caregivers, and Community Members,

    As we say in the schools, Happy New Year! As the summer gives way to an exciting new school year, I do hope you have all taken the time necessary to rest, recuperate, and reflect. I am delighted to add my own welcome to the 2022-23 school year to those extended by our Board of Education and our building principals. 

    On Wednesday morning, the faculty and staff gathered for our annual convocation ceremony on Butler Field to launch the new year. In addition to staff, Board of Education members were in attendance, along with this year’s Parent Teacher Council President, Lauren Grossberg. Board President Amber Yusuf shared words of encouragement for the year, as did Ms. Grossberg and Mr. Joe Vaughan, the President of the Scarsdale Teachers Association. As I stood to deliver my own message, I was energized by the fact that there were strong overlapping themes among our words. We each acknowledged the shared hardship of the past two and a half years, along with the hope for a return to the familiar. We also communicated messages about building community, and the importance of reengaging with our parents and with each other, as the challenges of the pandemic start to give way to more inclusive and collaborative opportunities. In short, we are unified in our view that the year holds incredible promise for our students and families!

    That’s not to say we won’t have challenges to address and overcome. As I noted in my remarks, we are in new territory as educators, operating at a unique moment in the history of public education. Our responsibility is to fulfill Scarsdale’s mission to sponsor each student's full development, enabling our youth to be effective and independent contributors in a democratic society and an interdependent world. We must do this at a time when our democracy seems increasingly fragile, with the first generation of young people living their entire lives in the presence of social media, and in a landscape where truth and facts are expertly distorted and disguised. On top of this, we continue to confront the circumstances of raising and educating kids in the midst of a devastating global pandemic. As I said, there are challenges, but I assure you we are up to the task.

    One of our strategies this year will be to organize our work as educators around a few key priorities. We are calling this effort Connecting our WIDE Community. Connecting refers to both connecting the dots- helping our educators to see the full K-12 picture, and to recognize how their individual goals and work support the mission and the larger purposes of the education we provide. Connecting also refers to working with one another in partnership. Our best work happens when we are working well together, sharing, and learning with and from one another in order to advance something greater than ourselves.

    The acronym WIDE stands for Wellbeing, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. This reorganizes DEI to include well-being as a co-equal partner in the work of creating an even more inclusive, diverse, and equitable learning community. WIDE reflects both a fundamental precondition for learning and an ambitious goal. We want our students to be good at learning AND at life; and we all must seek to thrive, not just survive. Thus, we must find ways to make everyone in our learning community feel like they belong and are included. Last year we were challenged by our DEI consultant Dr. Derrick Gay to reconsider the word diversity, and to do so in two important ways. The first, to see diversity as a space to which we all share a claim, because we are all diverse. The second, to shift our mindset from thinking about diversity as a particular type of person to thinking about it as a goal that adds value for everyone in our community by focusing on excellence and equity simultaneously. We expect to continue this work by aiming to adopt shared definitions for the terms inclusion, belonging, diversity, and equity, and by constructing a visual representation- a model- that communicates both these definitions and our vision for how DEI, or WIDE, can guide our practices. Simultaneously, we will continue our collaboration with Dr. Gay to deepen our knowledge and skills, even as our seven schools continue their WIDE work in unique and specific ways. We look forward to communicating more about this important work in the near future. In the coming months, I will be attending elementary school general PTA meetings to hear from parents about their hopes and interests with respect to our work in this area.

    Finally, nurturing community is our fundamental charge as educators and human beings, and it is the surest route to wellbeing. However, the pandemic, coupled with the challenges of digital life, has surfaced disruptions in typical patterns of social emotional growth and development, as well as challenges to concentration, engagement, and deep thinking for our students. Complicating things further, the pandemic also upset our normal patterns of school:home connection. Our ability to confront these challenges depends on our willingness to come together as a community, and to actively work to create community in all of our spaces, interactions, and encounters. This is because each of us plays a role in creating community, utilizing partnerships and leveraging the urgency of our purpose. We will be challenging ourselves each day to think of ways we can build community and help our students, families, faculty, staff, and leaders flourish.

    In conclusion, it is my hope that this simple framework, Connecting our WIDE Community, can serve as a helpful structure for collaborating to fulfill our mission. I want to thank you, our parents, caregivers, and community members, for entrusting us with your children. We look forward to engaging with you in our schools and events, and expect this to be a transformative school year!

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Drew Patrick

    Interim Superintendent of Schools

    August 26, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community, 

    We are writing today to share important updated information pertaining to the opening of the Scarsdale Public Schools in light of the most recent guidance from public health and education authorities. We ask that you please take the time to read this message in its entirety.

    Over the past two weeks, both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York State Departments of Health and Education (NYDOH/NYSED) have adjusted their COVID-related recommendations for schools. These new recommendations remove many of the previous requirements that schools were asked to enforce and signal a continued shift toward individuals and families as decision-makers with respect to COVID response. In light of this guidance, the Scarsdale Schools will be refocusing our energy on more traditional and familiar educational responsibilities and spending less time managing and enforcing these recommendations. Of course, we will make appropriate adjustments to this approach should changing health conditions in our schools and community warrant. 

    Key Updates From Recent CDC/State Recommendations:

    • Individuals exposed to COVID are no longer required/recommended to quarantine.
    • The guidelines and recommendations no longer differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
    • Isolation for those testing positive for COVID is still required.
    • Regular testing for COVID within schools is no longer recommended. Schools are encouraged to provide testing around the return from breaks or higher-risk activities.
    • Schools should adjust their mitigation/testing protocols in response to the local COVID metrics and prioritize in-person schooling for all children.

    Links to NY State and CDC Guidance:

    Scarsdale’s Protocols in Response to Updates

    Returning to School After Symptoms or Illness:

    The recommendation remains for students exhibiting a COVID-related symptom to stay home until two antigen or one PCR test show negative result(s), but is no longer a requirement. We continue to strongly encourage any students or staff who experience symptoms related to COVID to test prior to returning to school after an absence or illness; however, the nurses’ office will no longer be collecting the negative results.

    Returning to School after a COVID Diagnosis:

    Students testing positive for COVID are still required to isolate according to the CDC guidelines for a minimum of 5 days. The CDC still recommends wearing a mask indoors on days 6-10 after release from isolation.

    Distribution of Covid-19 Antigen Tests:

    On Tuesday, August 30 from 9am to 6pm at the Scarsdale High School Brewster Road Entrance (in the drop-off circle), the District will distribute COVID antigen tests to all interested families. No sign-up is necessary and families may come to pick up tests at any time during the distribution hours. We only ask that you limit your request for tests to 2 boxes (4 tests) per child. Tests will continue to be available throughout the year in the nurses’ offices for families and staff.  

    We strongly encourage all of our families to test on September 5th or 6th prior to arriving for the start of school. This testing is not required and the school will not be collecting results, but community actions like these throughout the year can help avoid large-scale spread in our schools and reduce the number of students and staff needing to isolate and miss instruction.

    Learning Supports for Students in Isolation

    During the 2022-23 school year, students who are required to isolate due to Covid-19 will be supported in the following manner.  

    • In the event of a first instance of isolation during the 22-23 school year, support for continuity of education will follow pre-Covid school: home communication practices (i.e., similar to how a medical absence was treated in the past). This will involve communication between the teacher(s) and the student and will include one or more of the following methods: posting assignments to our digital platforms (Google Classroom (HS); Schoology (MS); Seesaw or Google Classroom (ES)), emails, and/or phone calls home. The District will publish and distribute a more detailed description of what to expect by September 15.   
    • In the event of a second instance of isolation during the 22-23 school year, continuity of education will be supported via an agency or district-contracted tutor, based on a modified implementation of the District's Homebound Instruction policy. Notable differences from the specifics of this policy include 1) instruction will be provided for the second isolation period even if the total isolation period is less than 10 days, and 2) elementary students will receive the same 2 hours (not 1 hour) per day of absence as secondary students.
    • Please note that tutoring will no longer be provided by Scarsdale teachers unless the District is unable to secure an agency or contracted tutor. 

    Background and Rationale

    As many will recall, we instituted a temporary change in practice last year to encourage Scarsdale teachers to provide tutoring outside of teaching hours in order to support continuity of learning to students in isolation. Among the variety of reasons for this approach were: last year marked the return to full-time, in-school learning for all students since the onset of the pandemic; access to vendor-provided tutoring was severely constrained due to nation-wide demand which necessitated the recruitment of our own teachers to serve in this capacity;  students under isolation and under quarantine were required to stay home at the start of last year; unlike typical pre-Covid medical absences, many of our isolated students were asymptomatic and did not need time at home to recover from symptoms that might interrupt their ability to focus on school.

    Our approach for the 2022-23 school year reflects changes in each of the reasons identified above. In particular, we anticipate fewer student isolation days overall, along with greater access to and availability of vendor-provided tutoring resources. We truly appreciate that we were able to engage the knowledge and expertise of our own Scarsdale educators during this unique time. However, this return to a practice more aligned with our Homebound Instructional Policy will allow our educators to refocus on professional priorities that were impacted in order to enable them to tutor. It is our expectation that students will have access to work and learning materials during any period of absence and that our faculty will do what they do best- support all of their students, including those who miss time in school.

    In conclusion, we hope this information helps to create an understanding of the approaches we will use for the coming school year. 

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Drew Patrick, Interim Superintendent
    Eric Rauschenbach, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education & Student Services

     

    May 24, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Schools Community,

    I am writing this evening to express solidarity with and care for our community, and for communities across our nation. Today's horrendous act of violence at Robb Elementary School in Texas, the horrifying racially-motivated murders in Buffalo less than two weeks ago, and the other tragic losses of young lives experienced in nearby communities, are incalculably painful. They are impossible to make sense of, and they elevate our collective sense of vulnerability. In light of this, here are some important things to know.

    • We can and should expect members of our community to struggle in the wake of these events. Our administrators, counselors, and clinicians are prepared to support students who need to process their emotions around these events.
    • The safety of our students and staff, and the security of our buildings, are of paramount importance. Our safety procedures and practices are regularly reviewed and reinforced; threats, perceived or otherwise, are investigated; and changes are implemented based on new information and events. Our intent is to prevent a tragedy in our community.
    • We have been in contact with the Scarsdale Police this evening as we do in such circumstances, and our schools benefit from the strong partnership we have with Chief Matturro and the entire department. This collaboration will continue as we learn more about this most recent event.
    • Our strength lies in the community we construct together every single day. Our faculty and staff cherish their responsibility as trusted adults in the lives of the students in our care, not just when tragedy strikes, but each and every day.

    I am confident that the community we have built will give us the ability to hold each other up, and to hold ourselves together in the face of these and any challenges to come. While no community is immune to tragedy, we have the good fortune of sharing deep care and concern for one another, for our schools, and for the importance of our work as partners in the lives of our community's children. We thank you for your continued support and trust.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Drew Patrick

    Interim Superintendent

     

    May 15, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Unfortunately, this weekend Westchester County was designated as a high transmission county according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) county data. As a reminder, the Community Level is high because the levels of COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases, and patients in hospital beds are a strain on the local health system. At this level of transmission, both the CDC and the State Health Department recommend that individuals wear masks in indoor settings, including K-12 schools. In addition to the individual protection masks provide, they can also help to lessen the burden on our health care system by slowing the spread. So, while the CDC and NYS are no longer mandating masking, they do suggest it. Therefore, we are also suggesting, but not mandating, masking as a preventive step for as long as our community level remains High. We do require that families, staff, and students respect the choices individuals within our school community make with regard to masking.

    Scarsdale has seen an increase in the number of cases in the District. Since May 2, 2022, there have been 232 student cases and 21 staff cases.  This is about double the number we saw in the previous two weeks. The cases are sporadic across grades and schools and usually take the form of small clusters on a grade level. The District has and will continue to follow its mitigation strategies including those outlined in our ventilation plan, procedures for returning to school when sick or symptomatic, informing grade levels when there are more than two cases on a grade level, and sending test kits home to larger groups of students when additional cases are detected. Please remember families can also request test kits from our school nurses at any time, they can be sent home with students or left at the safety monitor station for pick up. At this time, the District has no plans to make any changes to our day-to-day.  

    As you know, we are eagerly anticipating the traditional events and celebrations between now and the end of the year. These gatherings will bring together many people, including extended families and individuals who aren’t frequently in our schools. As a result, these types of events do hold an increased likelihood of spreading COVID-19. We encourage the community to consider wearing masks when at these larger indoor events, strongly encourage anyone at higher risk to wear a mask, and ask participants to respect each other’s choices. We also require anyone recovering from COVID to wear a mask in the 6-10 day window after testing positive. Likewise, anyone who has been recently exposed should wear a mask. 

    We look forward to coming together at the many community events planned for the weeks ahead and hope the current spike passes quickly. Thank you for keeping the safety of our friends and neighbors in mind as we enjoy all of our end-of-year activities. 

    Thank you,

    Eric K. Rauschenbach, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services
    Dr. Drew Patrick, Interim Superintendent of Schools

    March 1, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Tomorrow, the District will officially be masking optional. State guidance was just released late this evening.

    The following chart will address our ongoing risk mitigation efforts, effective immediately: 

    *The chart has been updated since the Superintendent's Update was sent on March 1, 2022.

    Mask Wearing Optional in all school buildings, on all school grounds, and on school buses.
    Social Distancing Social distancing will no longer restrict learning or programming activities. Please note exceptions below for students and staff returning from COVID-19 illness.
    Return to school following COVID-19 illness or exposure to a positive individual Isolation rules remain in place. Individuals may return to school or work after a 5-day isolation period if they meet the symptom requirements. Upon return, a well-fitting mask must be worn at all times for days 6-10. If a mask cannot be worn, isolation must continue through day 10.

    Individuals required to wear a mask may remove the mask in order to eat or drink. When masks are removed, the individual must maintain 6 feet of social distance from others.
    Indoor spaces Indoor spaces will be utilized at capacity to allow for in-person events.
    Lunch and snacks Individuals may eat lunch in the cafeteria and snacks in the classroom.

    Students who are required to wear masks following illness or exposure on days 6-10 must be seated 6 feet away from others when they are not wearing a mask to eat.
    Notification of COVID-19 cases The District will continue to notify the community of positive cases by building on a regular basis.
    Nurse’s Office Individuals may be asked to wear a mask while in the nurse’s office if showing Covid-19 symptoms. (Masks will be provided as needed.)
    Visitors All visitors are permitted, so long as they have not had Covid-19 during the past 10 days.
    Cleaning and Ventilation Current cleaning and ventilation plans will remain in place.

    We will continue with updates, both building-based and District-wide, as needed. 

    It has been a very long road to get to this point. Tonight, we celebrate a major step forward toward returning to normalcy for our students, staff, schools, and community. It is finally time to imagine and plan for a brighter future!

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    February 28, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    As we communicated yesterday, Scarsdale Public Schools will transition to optional mask-wearing, effective Wednesday, March 2. 

    There are two notable exceptions:

    1. Individuals returning prior to 10 days of isolation will be required to wear a mask through the 10th day after the onset of symptoms or positive diagnosis.
    2. Students experiencing symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and visiting the nurse’s office will be required to mask by the nurse. 

    Note: Testing requirements for returning to school after symptoms are still in effect.

    Updated written guidance from the State is expected sometime this week regarding masking and other risk mitigation efforts. When released, we will communicate any further changes.

    Linked is a reminder of our expectations for maintaining a respectful and supportive school community during this transition.

    Mask Reminders

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    February 27, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Governor Hochul just announced that she will be lifting the mask mandate for schools this Wednesday, March 2nd. As I have indicated earlier, the District will be following this guidance immediately, allowing individuals to choose whether to wear masks or not, and families to make that choice for their children.

    We will send out additional information tomorrow regarding this topic, but I wanted to share this news right away.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    February 27, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    This weekend the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced a change in their recommendations for masking. The CDC now recommends that counties institute masking mandates according to the local COVID metrics and the CDC’s three-tier risk classification system (low, medium, and high). In these new recommendations, indoor masking (including in schools) should only be required when your community is at high risk of transmission.  Currently, Westchester County is classified as a low-risk county.

    As a public school district, we must adhere to the New York State Departments of Health and Education for guidance prior to making any changes in our masking policies. Just prior to the February break, Governor Hochel announced she would make a decision about indoor masking in schools on or about March 4, 2022, once she reviews the data on transmission post-break. Superintendents across the region and State are advocating that NYS review the current State practices in light of the new CDC recommendations and issue timely guidance accordingly. 

    As we have indicated in the past, as soon as NYS formally issues amended masking guidance, we will follow it without delay. Given the current Westchester and New York State COVID metrics, it seems likely that the indoor masking mandate will be made optional in the near future.  While we welcome another step toward normalcy, there are many different comfort levels regarding masking. This was addressed as part of the February 15, 2022, Superintendent’s Update, but I have included this link again as a reminder.

    A note on testing before we return: For the protection of all students and staff, we strongly encourage students to test for Covid-19 prior to the return from break. We ask that this be done either the night before or the morning of Monday, February 28, and then again on Thursday, March 3. Only positive results should be reported to the appropriate school nurse.

    We hope everyone had a relaxing and rejuvenating break, and we are looking forward to seeing everyone back in school tomorrow!

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

     

    February 15, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Good afternoon. I wanted to take the opportunity to address two topics prior to next week’s break: masking and antigen testing.

    Masking:
    As you all likely know, the school masking mandate expires next week on February 21st; however, Governor Hochul has indicated that she will announce a decision about masking in schools on or about March 4th. Given this timing, it is likely that she will provide an extension that bridges these two dates.

    As we have stated earlier, the District will be following whatever guidance is provided, including allowing optional masking, if that is the ultimate decision.

    Given the likelihood that masking will become optional in the near future, we want to take this opportunity to clarify a few points:

    • If the requirement for wearing a mask ends, then it is the right of each individual who enters our schools to choose whether or not to wear one. Everyone’s individual preference will be shown equal respect.
    • The decision for a student to wear or not wear a mask is a family decision. We ask that parents clearly discuss their preferences with their children. If a student arrives at school with/without a mask, we will assume that this reflects the family's decision.
    • Students will not be treated differently (i.e. relocated or moved within a classroom or removed from a classroom) based on whether or not they are wearing a mask. 

    Other important information to consider:

    • Some of our students have never attended school without a mask. Students in kindergarten and first grade have always been required to wear a mask in school. Removing masks may be strange and unsettling for some; we are prepared to support all students as they navigate this change.
    • Some students will not be comfortable removing a mask, and we will be supportive of those students as well.
    • Respecting individual masking choices for both students and staff is critical; disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated. We will carefully monitor for any pressure, bullying, or other negative interactions based on whether or not a person is wearing a mask.
    • Schools and classrooms will remain physically and emotionally safe spaces for our students and staff.

    Antigen Testing for February Break:
    On Thursday or Friday of this week, all students and staff members will receive a kit containing two at-home antigen tests. We are strongly recommending that all staff and students test prior to their return from February break. We suggest testing on either the evening of February 27, or the morning of February 28, 2022, and then again on the evening of March 3, 2022. While testing is not mandatory and we will not be asking parents to report negative results, this testing will help mitigate any increase in cases after the break. 

    Families are expected to report any positive results to the school nurse and to have their child isolate in accordance with the NYS Quarantine and Isolation Guidance

    The tests have been provided through NYS and American Rescue Plan funds and have come at no cost to the school District. Many of the tests being provided have an expiration date of February 2022, but this date has been extended until May 2022. Thank you in advance for helping to reduce the chance of Covid-19 spread after the break.

    This year has continued to present a number of challenges, so it is important that everyone take some time over the next week to relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy time with friends and family.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    January 31, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Good afternoon. Hopefully, this note finds you all safe and well-rested after a cold and snowy weekend. As we enter into this new week, we wanted to share some important information with you on masking updates, snacks, trips, and spectators. I ask that you review this information carefully as your schedule permits. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

    Masking:
    As Covid-19 cases decline regionally, there is ongoing discussion about ending mask mandates in public places. The mask mandate for schools is different from the general public mandate. Presently, the Executive Order for schools is in effect through February 21. The Governor has stated she will make a decision on extending or ending this soon. It is also possible that ongoing litigation regarding the masking requirement results in the end of the mask mandate upon a legal determination. As we have indicated throughout the year, we will follow any guidance from the New York State Department of Education and the New York Department of Health. In advance of any changes, note that we intend to support any individual’s decision to continue masking for those who feel more comfortable with this approach.

    Snacks:
    Prior to the Omicron surge, we had planned to restart snacks in the elementary schools. Given the current trend of spread in the County, we will be reintroducing snacks starting February 7, 2022. Please see the questions raised and answered prior to the last planned start of snack. Building administrators will be reaching out with specific information about each building.  

    Trips:
    Educational day trips will continue to be allowed as is current practice. Overnight trips that include flights will continue to require a one-to-one parent accompaniment. Overnight trips not requiring flights will no longer require a one-to-one parent accompaniment; however, families must be able to pick their students up if they become COVID positive while on the trip.

    Spectators:
    Starting February 7, 2022, spectators will be allowed at 50% of the posted capacity. There may still be a per performer/athlete limit on some events given the space restrictions of our various venues. Given the complex scheduling around many of these events, we will not be adjusting performances or contests from their traditional spaces. 

    We will continue to review these and other Covid-19 related procedures on a regular basis moving forward with our next review just after February break.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    January 25, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    As many of you have likely already heard, at last night’s Board of Education meeting, I tendered my resignation, formally effective at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. This decision comes after significant reflection and soul-searching. 

    While the timing is not ideal, I have been offered a new opportunity that will allow me to pursue my educational passions while also continuing to learn and grow as a leader.

    When I came to Scarsdale eight years ago, the District was yearning for academic improvement, curricular consistency, clear communication, operational transparency, facilities and grounds improvements, financial stewardship, strategic planning, policy revision, and so much more. As I look back over these many years and prepare to say goodbye to our students, faculty, staff, and parents, it is with the hope that these and many other areas have significantly improved, and that Scarsdale is positioned to continue on a positive trajectory of growth. 

    Serving the Scarsdale Community since 2014 has been one of the highlights of my career. Over the years we have faced challenges both expected and unprecedented, but always with a singular purpose: to prepare our children for the best possible future.  

    The heartbeat of this District has and always will be the people, starting with our incredibly capable and talented students. They are, and must always continue to be, our first priority. The extraordinary teaching and learning that happens in our schools is, of course, credited to our truly remarkable staff members, educators, and leaders. I hope that their skill, dedication, and expertise continue to be recognized and lauded by both the community and the Board.

    Finally, I would like to thank both our parent leadership groups and the Board of Education--both those currently in place and those that I have had the good fortune of working with throughout my tenure here in Scarsdale. With few exceptions, these individuals have understood their roles as school community leaders; stewards of our resources; defenders of excellence in public education; and avid supporters of students, staff, and the broader school community. 

    Historically, our educators and many leadership teams have worked together collaboratively to balance the voices and needs of our schools' many stakeholders while also ensuring that our students remain the focus of our most meaningful work and decision-making. As Scarsdale’s schools continue to progress through a time of significant change and transition, it is imperative that these individuals and groups work closely together to preserve the best of what Scarsdale’s schools have always been: places of great teaching and learning; places that support its students, teachers, and leaders; and places that create a sense of community and camaraderie.

    Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” While Scarsdale and I will continue our journeys on different paths moving forward, I will always remain grateful for the time we were able to spend together. 

    Warm regards,
    Thomas

     

    January 25, 2022

    Good morning, All!

    As most of you are probably aware, an NYS Supreme Court Justice in Nassau County issued a ruling late yesterday afternoon annulling the Commissioner of Health’s emergency regulation requiring masks to be worn in schools as unconstitutional. 

    Late yesterday evening, the NYS Attorney General filed a Notice of Appeal of the ruling. This filing triggers an automatic stay of the lower court’s ruling pending a further decision by the Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department. As a result, the emergency regulation requiring masks to be worn in schools has been restored and is enforceable.

    We will keep you informed as this or other issues around risk mitigation efforts evolve.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    January 18, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Today’s update will include current metrics, adjusted spectator rules for all performances, and adjusted trip allowances. Additionally, this week we expect to announce further adjustments to contact tracing and quarantine rules as the recent guidance is clarified by the State. Given the rapidly changing COVID-19 infection numbers, we will review trip and event protocols on a two-week basis, as well as other relevant procedures.

    Current Metrics:
    Fortunately, COVID-19 numbers have started to decline in the last week across the County and State. In Westchester, cases per 100k have dropped from a high of 381 to 272, the positive test rate has moved from 31.3% to 27.3%, and the infection rate has dropped from 1.42 to .97. With the caveat that numbers remain very high in comparison to other COVID-19 surges and schools are still seeing multiple cases a day, the overall downward trend is still encouraging. For a full understanding of national, State, and local COVID-19 data see this link.

    Events and Spectators:
    As indicated earlier, District administration has reviewed current metrics and internal risk mitigation efforts and we are modifying the following practices:

      • Students may bring two spectators to any school co-curricular activity as long as 50% capacity of the event space is not exceeded. All mitigation measures must be followed by all participants and attendees, including mask-wearing.
      • Parent and community meetings will be allowed on campuses after school hours, utilizing mask-wearing and 6ft social distancing in all spaces.
      • These practices will be reviewed (and potentially updated) again in two weeks

    Trip Updates:

    As part of our review, we also examined travel events. Below, you will find our updated procedures on day and overnight trips:

    Educationally relevant field trips (without overnight stays) are now being allowed with risk mitigation efforts in place, including masking, regardless of venue rules.
    Trips that require an overnight stay are being allowed as long as a parent or legal guardian can accompany each student. No transportation will be provided.
    All mitigation measures must be followed by all participants and attendees, including mask-wearing, regardless of venue rules.
    These changes are good news in terms of normalizing these activities for students, staff, and families. As the Omicron surge lessens, we will continue to update our practices for even more freedom and flexibility. Enjoy the week and stay warm and healthy.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    January 12, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Today’s update is to provide information on the latest COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidance issued by NYS DOH and accepted by the Westchester County DOH, and current metrics on COVID-19.

    New Guidance on Isolation and Quarantine:

    Today our school nurses are contacting the many families whose return to school dates have changed given the new rules listed below. If you have a child(ren) out due to being COVID-19 positive or quarantined, please look for an email today informing you of the adjusted timelines for your child(ren). Feel free to reach out to your school building if you have further questions after you receive the email. 

    Over the past week, the CDC, NYSDOH, and Westchester County DOH have all made multiple changes to current COVID-19 guidelines. Additionally, we expect the NYSDOH to issue guidance around contact tracing later this week as a result of Governor Hochul’s announcement today.  Much of the issued guidance and coming guidance requires the local health departments to adopt and enact. With that being said and at this time, the current rules for isolation and quarantine are as follows:

     Guidelines

    Additionally, please see the link to the updated FAQ on Contact Tracing and Positive Case response and the procedures for Scarsdale’s Test to Stay program. If you have any further questions or feel free to reach out.

    Current COVID-19 Metrics:

    Scarsdale has had the following cases:

    Students (as reported during or since return from break): Total 370

    • Elementary: 151
    • Middle School: 102
    • High School:117

    Staff: (affecting absences since break): Total 120

    • Teachers: 50
    • All other staff: 70

    Even with the numbers above, In the past few days the numbers of COVID cases are happily showing some positive signs; while the overall numbers still remain above any seen previously in the pandemic, important indicators are starting to change. The infection rate and positivity rate are trending lower and the rate per 100k residents seems to be plateauing. While these changes won’t be felt for some time in our day to day lives, they do hopefully indicate a beginning of the end for this surge. Here is a link to the most recent COVID-19 statistics in Westchester County.

    Wishing everyone a wonderful rest of the week,

    Eric K. Rauschenbach, Assistant Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services 

     

    January 7, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Happy Friday! It has been quite a first week back. Today’s update includes revised Covid-19 metrics, vaccine clinic information, and new test-to-stay and test-to-return protocols. 

    Key Points (New!)

    • If you are vaccinated, please give the school nurse a copy of your info if you haven’t already done so.
    • Metrics: cases are up…way up!
    • Kudos to our staff for keeping our schools open!
    • Vaccine clinics continue at SVAC. Call 914-722-2288, or visit www.scarsdalevac.com.
    • Antigen tests have arrived. Test-to-Stay and Test-to-Return protocols are beginning Monday.

    The Details

    Contact Tracing:
    We request that you please make Contact Tracing easier and help to stop the spread. You can do this by giving your school nurse a copy of your child’s vaccine card or a screenshot of their Excelsior Pass if you have not already done so. This will make contact tracing more efficient and will help your child avoid being removed from class if they are a close contact of a Covid-19 positive individual.  

    Current Cases and County Metrics:
    Current Westchester County numbers are as follows:

      Cases per 100K: 354
      Infection Rate: 1.37%
      Positive Test Rate: 33%

    Positive Cases in the District:

    • Students (as reported during or since return from break): Total 252
      • Elementary: 97
      • Middle School: 69
      • High School:86
    • Staff (impacting one or more days of school since 1/1/22): Total 83
      • Teachers: 38
      • Others: 45

    In addition to positive cases, many teachers, staff, and administrators have been impacted indirectly by Covid, with cases in their households, or have had regular illnesses typical of this time of year. In total, we experienced 266 staff absences this week. These absences have obviously created a number of unavoidable coverage challenges during this week. We anticipate this trend will continue while this surge lasts. 

    These numbers represent record highs for Covid-19 infections and school-based cases. Happily, there has been some lessening in the infection rate in the past few days, and, at this time, we have not been informed of serious illness requiring hospitalization. With that being said, the County hospitalization and death rates have risen over the past week, and hospital capacity has diminished, but these cases remain low as a percentage of infections in comparison to previous spikes. For a more complete picture of the County numbers click here.

    Given this troubling data, it is important for all of us to publicly acknowledge and thank our faculty and staff, who continue to go above and beyond to provide instructional continuity for our students. Just this week, many braved hazardous driving conditions on Wednesday to get to work before the closure decision was made; and today everyone quickly pivoted to remote learning with little notice. It is only through their extraordinary flexibility, dedication, and hard work that we have been able to maintain in-person instruction and a host of other activities for students this year.

    Vaccine/Booster Clinic:
    SVAC will be conducting vaccine clinics over the coming weeks. They will be offering initial, second, and booster shots for all ages as per the CDC guidelines. Please check their website regularly as they add additional clinics as they receive doses www.scarsdalevac.com. If you have questions please call SVAC at 914-722-2288. We also want to thank SVAC for continuing to provide this extremely important community service, and we strongly encourage everyone who has not done so to get their vaccine or booster as they become eligible!

    Antigen Testing for Students and Staff:
    The District received 5,000 antigen test kits from the State this week to help us manage the current spike in cases. We plan to use these tests in two ways:


    (1) Test-to-Stay (TTS) is a department of a health-approved program that allows asymptomatic unvaccinated students to return to school if they are in close contact with a positive individual. Details are as follows:

    • TTS is intended for asymptomatic unvaccinated students who are determined to be a close contact to a Covid positive individual while at school or who have a documented quarantine order from the Westchester County Department of Health. Students who have documented proof of vaccination or a documented diagnosis of Covid in the 90 days preceding exposure are not required to utilize the TTS program.
    • Testing must be performed every day before school on days 1-7 after exposure.
    • Once a student has been identified, all the necessary test kits will be distributed to the student. 
    • The school nurse must receive an email prior to the start of the school day with a picture of the negative result. The test must be labeled in marker with the date and time.
    • The testing schedule will be adjusted depending upon what day after documented exposure the index individual is identified. Students only need to test on days they attend school (no weekend testing).  
    • Students utilizing TTS must maintain masking at all times (including outdoors, with the exception of lunch) for a full 10 days post-exposure. Individual mask breaks, away from others, can be provided as needed.  
    • Those who test negative may attend school but may not participate in sports, after-school activities, or ride the bus until cleared by the TTS process (after day 7).
    • Any individual testing positive through the TTS program will be referred to DOH.
    • If Covid-like symptoms occur in a student participating in TTS, a negative PCR/NAAT test will be required before the student is allowed to return to school. 
    • Staff members are not eligible for the TTS program.

    (2) Test-to-Return (TTR) allows students or staff who present with symptoms to use a school-supplied antigen test to return. Details are as follows:

      • Any vaccinated student or staff member presenting with symptoms that would require a negative test to return to school must go home/stay home for the remainder of the day but will be provided with two antigen tests to fulfill that requirement if needed. Unvaccinated students and staff members are still required to furnish a PCR/NAAT test to return.
      • Ideally, one test should be performed the day prior to returning to school and the other should be performed on the morning of the day of return. However, the tests are acceptable if they are performed at least 6 hours apart. 
    • Symptoms must be resolved, and students or staff must be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medicines prior to the return to school, regardless of test results. 
    • Individuals may present with symptoms for many reasons, not only Covid-19.  It is imperative that families follow recommendations made by the school nurse and their physicians with regard to the need for medical treatment. Negative Covid-19 tests do not rule out other serious health conditions.
    • As per our existing procedures, students and staff may also provide their own privately administered PCR test, at-home antigen tests (2), or a note from their physician certifying the symptoms as a non-Covid illness to return. 

    The New Year has started with a number of challenges, some expected (Covid-19) and some not (weather), but we are thrilled to have our students back in the buildings. We look forward to a second semester filled with learning opportunities and continued progress towards normalcy.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

     

    January 6, 2022

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    We are keeping a close eye on the forecast for tomorrow. As always, our goal remains to have an in-person school day. However, in anticipation of what is forecasted to be a moderate snow event, we should all be ready for either a delayed opening or remote instruction day. We are communicating this now so everyone can prepare for these possibilities.

    Every attempt will be made to make a decision by 6:30 a.m. regarding whether in-person school will be possible or not. 

    As with any winter storm, conditions can change at the last minute for better or worse. In the event that the conditions are significantly worse than expected, we would follow our Emergency Weather Procedures for a significant weather event.

    Please see our previous communications on remote education: ElementaryMiddle School, and High School

    Thank you as always for your flexibility and patience throughout these difficult times. 

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    December 31, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Happy New Year's Eve!

    The District shares the concerns expressed by some of our parents regarding outdoor masking and the removal of mask breaks. For advocacy around these issues and to gain greater clarity, I asked our District's attorney to reach out to the Governor's Office directly.

    A representative clarified the following: "In general, people do not need to wear masks when they are outdoors (e.g., participating in outdoor play, recess, and physical education activities). CDC recommends those who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with others."

    Therefore, I am happy to announce that we will be able to retain our ability to unmask outdoors and take outdoor breaks as needed.

    Warm regards,
    Thomas Hagerman
    Superintendent of Schools

    December 30, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing holiday. We will be returning to school on January 3rd, and in advance of this, we have a lot of important information to share with you. We ask that you please read this email in its entirety. 

    First and foremost, we believe our students need to continue to experience school in person. We have, and will continue to, adjust and adapt our mitigation efforts to minimize the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19. Our goal is to keep our schools open and safe. However, two scenarios could impact this decision at this time: (1) public health authorities or the Governor closes down schools; or (2) we are unable to safely and effectively staff our classes and/or schools due to required quarantines or isolation. Further information is provided below, explaining what to expect should either of these situations arise. 

    As a public school system, we cannot require COVID-19 testing in order for students to attend school. However, we do ask that students who have travelled over break or who are not feeling well to get tested before returning to classes on Monday. Students who are not feeling well should not come to school. 

    MetricsOver the past many weeks, COVID-19 metrics have dramatically increased in Westchester County along with the rest of the country. As of this morning, Westchester has 224.3 cases per 100k people, an infection rate of 1.51%, and a positivity rate of 12.4%. These numbers are concerning, as they are as high as they have been during the pandemic. That being said, 91.1% of the County have received a first dose of the vaccine, and 75.6% of the population have been fully-vaccinated. Additionally, hospitalizations and deaths remain far below those that we experienced during previous surges in the virus, especially for those who are vaccinated. We continue to encourage all of our community members to get vaccinated and receive their booster shots as soon as they are able to do so.

    State Guidance Changes:

    (1) Universal Masking - “universal masking continues to be required of teachers, staff, students, and visitors to P-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Mask breaks are no longer allowed during the school day and there is no exception to the masking requirement on the basis of minimal social distancing (e.g., 3 feet or 6 feet) in classrooms…[moreover] masks are required at any gathering on school grounds which addresses or implements educational matters where students are or may reasonably be expected to be present." (NYS DOH Guidelines)

    Implications for Scarsdale Schools:

    (A) Masks will need to be worn at all times--indoors and outdoors, except when students are eating lunch (socially distanced).

    (B) We are asking everyone on any of our school campuses to wear a mask, including parents at drop off and pick up.

    (C) Mask breaks will be discontinued until further notice.

    (D) Snack time at elementary schools is being postponed until further notice.

    (E) All staff will be furnished with KN-95 masks. All students are encouraged to wear KN-95 masks or close-fitting, high-quality masks.

    (2) 5 Day Isolation for Employees (This does not apply to students.) - The CDC recently changed their recommendations for those diagnosed with COVID-19, reducing the isolation period to 5 days. Despite this, we are governed by the NYS Department of Health, which adopts its own rules, informed by CDC and other recommendations. On December 24, 2021, the NYS Department of Health released guidance that reduced the isolation period for essential employees only. All public school employees fall into this category, including teachers. According to the NYS DOH, the isolation period for all students diagnosed with COVID-19 is still 10 days.

    (3) Test-to-Stay - Just prior to the December break, the NYS Health Department also allowed Districts to implement a “test to stay” program allowing unvaccinated close contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals to continue to attend school if they receive a negative antigen test the morning prior to attending. This exemption to quarantine only allows students to attend classes, these students must maintain all other quarantine measures including avoiding in-home spread and not attending after-school programs including sports. The District will be implementing this program as soon as we receive the tests, which we expect in the coming weeks. Given our high vaccination rate, this program will only impact a relatively small number of students given that only unvaccinated students must quarantine when exposed to COVID-19. We will be sending further details once we receive the tests and are able to begin the program.

    (4) Test-Out-of-Quarantine - Also prior to the December break, the NYS Health Department granted local health departments the autonomy to implement a test out of quarantine program according to the CDC recommendations. Currently, the Westchester County Department of Health has not implemented the ability to test out of quarantine after day 7. School districts are specifically restricted in NYS from allowing a test out without the local departments of health. We expect additional information on this from the WCDOH and will follow whatever procedures they put in place if they choose to adopt a test out of quarantine procedure.

    (5) Return for Symptomatic Students and Staff - Given the current difficulty in obtaining PCR testing for those students who experience symptoms and require testing to return to school, the District will ALSO accept two, negative antigen tests (at-home or lab-based) for any vaccinated individual to return to school. Unvaccinated individuals must still provide a negative, lab-based PCR result.  

    Ongoing TestingThe District will continue to work with Mt. Sinai and Verbosity for weekly screening testing. We will be testing all those who have signed up for testing the week we return. Tests will be handed out Tuesday, January 4, 2022, and collected on January 5, 2022. 

    Later this evening, Verbosity will send an invitation to all those who have not registered for the testing. Due to Verbosity’s platform, the invitation will only come to one of your registered emails (the same one you received the previous invitations). If you are interested in signing up, please look for an email from C-19 Safety First do_not_reply@mapterial.com. For those families with more than one child, you will receive an email for each child with a unique username. Please see this enrollment FAQ if you have any questions. If you do not receive the invitation email or have difficulty signing up, please contact the emails noted in the FAQ. In order to be tested the week we return, please sign up by 9 p.m. on December 31, 2021.

    Current and Additional Risk Mitigation EffortsThe District continues to follow risk mitigation measures, including proper masking, handwashing, and respiratory etiquette. The District will continue to provide hand sanitizer and handwashing opportunities within classrooms. Teachers will continue to emphasize the need for respiratory hygiene and cleanliness, especially in the younger grades. 

    (1) Lunch - Lunch will proceed as in the past with 6ft social distance, except masks must be worn at all times, except when food is being ingested. 

    (2) Facilities - The District’s Ventilation Plan is still being implemented with all classrooms and common spaces either having MERV-13 filtered mechanical fresh air or portable HEPA filters in place. Additionally, our cleaning and disinfecting procedures remain in full effect with enhanced disinfection of surfaces and more regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces. 

    (3) Large Group Activities, Trips, and Visitors - Prior to the break, we announced the lessening of COVID-19 restrictions with regards to large group events, overnight field trips, and visitor policies. Given the current COVID-19 metrics, we will be reinstating the restrictions previously in effect until the end of January when we will reevaluate. These restrictions will include the elimination of spectators at sports competitions and the cancellation of any field trips scheduled during January. We hope as the current surge in cases eases, we will be able to return to more normalized practices in all of these areas. 

    Sports and Extracurricular ActivitiesIn an effort to offer extracurricular activities while COVID-19 cases are increasing, we are re-implementing strict health and safety procedures for those who chose to participate. These procedures include mask-wearing, social distancing, facility utilization, spectator restriction, and travel limits. The procedures will apply to all participants while they are on school grounds or at school-sponsored activities. More details about these procedures will be communicated to the community as relevant.

    Regents Exams for January are CanceledThe New York State Education Department is canceling the January 2022 administration of the New York State High School Regents Examination Program in response to the ongoing impact of the COVID–19 pandemic. This link provides additional information.

    Quarantine InstructionThe District intends to continue the current quarantine instruction plan as communicated on September 29, 2021. The only change at this time will be at Scarsdale High School, where passive live streaming will be open to students who are under a mandated order of isolation or quarantine. Mr. Bonamo will be sending a communication to students and parents with more information.

    Remote InstructionAt the beginning of the year, we prepared an emergency remote instruction plan for each level in the event of a whole class, school-wide, or District-wide closure due to COVID-19. This plan will only be implemented in the event the State initiates a mandate to close schools or the number of quarantined staff impacts our ability to safely staff a classroom, a grade, a school, and/or our District. The student schedules were developed utilizing the most effective practices from our last closure to maximize student learning, connection, and engagement. The specifics of these plans will be communicated through building leadership and classroom teachers in the event they are needed. 

    In closing, it is imperative that our community continues to work together and follow our risk mitigation efforts, both in school and at home, in order to keep our schools open; we thank you for your support of and cooperation with this.

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman, Superintendent of Schools

     

    December 6, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Schools’ Community,

    Over the past weekend and including today, we have had 11 new cases of COVID-19, the majority of the cases occurred in vaccinated individuals and spanned all school levels from elementary to high school. Three of those cases occurred on the High School Track Team, resulting in a ten-day cancellation of this program.  

    The District has experienced 64 cases of COVID this school year with more than half of those cases occurring in the last 4-5 weeks. Our experience is not unique; it is a part of a larger uptick in COVID-19 on the County, State, and regional levels. Currently, Westchester County’s infection rate has risen to 1.26 (the highest since early July). Our daily cases per 100K has risen to 29.7, and our positivity rate has risen to 3.8%. These numbers have returned us to the highest CDC transmission category. 

    At this time, these cases are not causing major quarantines, due to our ongoing risk-mitigation protocols, but the cases serve as an important reminder that we must continue to be vigilant both in and out of school. We ask our parents to continue encouraging their children to wear their masks, distance when possible, and monitor for symptoms. Additionally, we would encourage all families to practice mitigation in their personal lives to help assure that our programs can continue in our current protocols and minimize the chance of spread and quarantine, especially as we prepare for the December break.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman, Superintendent of Schools  

     

    November 23, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Vaccinations:

    An inflatable, vaccination T-Rex was one of the standouts on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at Scarsdale High School, where nearly 200, 5-11-year-old students received their initial vaccinations for COVID-19. This momentous opportunity will be followed by a second dose offering on December 9, 2021. We would like to formally acknowledge and thank White Plains Hospital for partnering with us on this important clinic. 

    Additionally, are happy to report that Scarsdale Ambulance is offering Pfizer vaccinations for 5-11-year-olds tomorrow, Wednesday, November 24th from noon until 6:00 p.m. at SVAC headquarters, located at 5 Weaver Street, Scarsdale. This additional opportunity was scheduled in response to the overwhelming interest in last week’s vaccination clinic offered at SHS. 

    Please use the following link to schedule your child’s vaccination:   https://svac-shots.timetap.com/. 

    We appreciate the partnership between the District and SVAC and thank them for their rapid response in setting up this clinic before Thanksgiving and prioritizing Scarsdale’s students for vaccinations. 

    COVID Protocols:

    As a District, we recognize the need to regularly review and adjust our COVID protocols in order to ensure that they provide the right balance of risk mitigation and a normalized student experience. As we entered this school year, we made a commitment to return to pre-pandemic activities as health metrics improved and medical experts advised. To that end, over the past weeks, we have reexamined our protocols with our District’s Physician and determined that a number of protocols could be relaxed at this time, while still maintaining a safe school environment. All of these changes will go into effect immediately unless otherwise noted below.    

    Field Trips:

    Field trips can be conducted as usual. Masks must be used indoors, regardless of the venue (or any of their rules to the contrary). Current practices for eating will remain the same: outdoor eating is preferred; indoor dining may occur with six-foot social distancing in place. Note: field trips should be planned as close to the date of departure as practical, given the changing nature of the pandemic.  

    Overnight Trips:

    Overnight trips are permitted as long as students follow masking protocols indoors (aside from restaurant meals and hotel rooms). Records must be kept of roommates for contact tracing purposes. Students must be vaccinated or provide PCR test results within 72 hours of departure.  International travel is still prohibited at this time. 

    Parent Visitors and Volunteers:

    Medium- to large-size parent meetings are still being avoided during the school day. Parent volunteers and individual meetings are allowed, with appropriate masking, for specific school programs. Individual parent classroom volunteers are still restricted, and all parent volunteers must be vaccinated and able to show proof.  

    In-Person Performances and Assemblies

    These events are permitted under the following stipulations: (1) All participants must be masked for indoor venues, except performers on stage during the actual show or event, and (2) Audiences are limited to 50% or less of the venue’s capacity. [Seating should include spacing between households and three feet of distancing between individual students from different households]. 

    Snack at the Elementary Level:

    Over the past week, we have reviewed the plan for reinstating snacktime with the Scarsdale Teachers Association, the Parent-Teacher Council, and our Administrative Council. Given the staff and PTC preferences, we will implement snacks when we return from Holiday Recess on 1/3/2022. This will provide enough time to address logistical issues, provide additional time for vaccination of elementary students, and lessen the risk of quarantines prior to the December Break. 

    Interscholastic Athletics:

    Winter sports have started, and we are proceeding with health and safety procedures similar to those in the fall. Face masks are required for all indoor activities. Spectators will be allowed for most contests; however, attendance will be restricted to 50% capacity. Protocols for multi-school athletic events and those held outside of Scarsdale are activity-specific; COVID protocols will be provided for each of these as they are scheduled. 

    Next week, the District will begin testing student-athletes who are unvaccinated for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. If your child is a winter athlete who hasn’t already submitted proof of vaccination, please upload proof of vaccination to our Student Vaccination Survey. The survey will accept image or pdf files of vaccination cards or Excelsior Pass images.

    As we move into a weekend of recognition and gratitude, we are reminded that Thanksgiving is more than a bountiful meal and family festivities. This is also a time for us to reflect on those things that matter deeply to us, examine the many lessons we have learned over the past year, and acknowledge the important people who have influenced our lives in positive ways. 

    On behalf of the Scarsdale Schools, we are grateful for your continued support of our students, educators, and schools, and we wish a Happy Thanksgiving Day to you and yours. 

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    October 20, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale School Community,

    Today’s update will focus on some reminders around illness, absences, and return to school testing requirements, along with an update on our screening program. 

    Illnesses and Absences
    We have received some questions and concerns over the past few days about students who are ill. The first concern is around students who are ill and need to stay home but do not want to fall behind in their learning. We believe strongly that if students are sick, they should be focusing on their health and well-being and not allow the stress of school work to interfere with their healing process. At the point when students are home and not feeling well, but can engage in some school work, students and parents should feel free to contact teachers for missed work, as they have always done in the past.

    A second worry that has been expressed is that students may be coming into school when they are ill to avoid falling behind in classes, missing sporting events, and the like. With health and safety as a major priority, our teachers and nurses are on high alert for students who don't look or feel well. These students receive immediate attention and are evaluated to determine the best course of action (isolation, sent home, etc.).

    We have asked students and parents to partner with the District around the health and safety of all by making sure that students remain at home if they are exhibiting symptoms associated with Covid-19 infection.

    PCR Tests/Testing
    Since the start of the pandemic, the District procedure has been to require a PCR test to return to school if a student or faculty member experiences any symptoms associated with Covid-19. This procedure continues to be in place and will be for the foreseeable future. As the pandemic has continued, testing has become more readily available. However, depending on the vendor, some PCRs can take up to 5 days to return a result. We encourage all parents to utilize practitioners using rapid PCR testing technology to minimize the time students need to be out of school.

    The federal government has allowed for individuals with a known exposure or symptoms associated with Covid-19 to receive free Covid-19 testing at a sponsored testing site or be exempted from copay at a practitioner accepting your health insurance. In and around Scarsdale, there are a number of private practitioners and urgent care facilities that provide rapid PCR testing and accept most major insurances. Our school nurses can help direct families to a testing facility if they are experiencing difficulty in finding one.

    Covid-19 Screening Testing to Date
    We have just completed our first round of District-wide Covid-19 testing and, out of the more than 1100 tests administered, we had no positive cases. We believe this is strong evidence that our risk mitigation efforts are working and that ill or contagious students are not coming to school and infecting others.

    Reminder about this week’s testing
    This week, voluntary screening is happening at the elementary schools and samples are due back tomorrow by 10 a.m. All tests should be returned in their original bags and placed in the drop boxes located at the safety monitor’s station. Please see Eric Rauschenbach’s email from October 18, 2021, for further details on this week's testing. 

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    September 29, 2021  

    Dear Scarsdale Parents,

    Today’s update will focus on our instructional plans for students placed in mandatory quarantine due to Covid-19. 

    Please Note: We continue to work with the Westchester County Covid-19 testing program and expect the parental consent email for testing to be sent out shortly. We will send a community update out once this has occurred.

    Instructional Plan for Students in Mandatory Quarantine:
    Students placed into a mandatory quarantine by the Westchester County Department of Health will be provided level-specific, quarantine instruction. While there are variations at each level, the common components are:

    (1) classroom teacher contact, and 
    (2) virtual home tutoring for the duration of the quarantine

    Please take note of these important points about tutoring:

    • We will strive to schedule tutoring as soon as possible; however, it may take a little time to schedule the appropriate teacher/tutor and to establish contact with families. It is important to note that all students will be provided the full number of tutoring hours, even if that extends into the time a student returns to school.
    • While direct classroom instruction is our preferred method for student learning and tutoring is not a replacement for that instruction, it is meant to be a support structure that helps students stay connected to what is happening in their classrooms when they cannot attend in person. This connection will ease the transition back to the classroom.
    • In instances where a student is symptomatic AND in quarantine/isolation, the priority for that student should be on recovering and feeling healthy again, much like a more typical absence due to illness. As with all illnesses, our teachers are understanding of students recovering from COVID-related illness and will demonstrate flexibility when students return from quarantine, such as allowing students time to complete missed assignments and assessments.

    A brief overview of plans for each level, as well as a complete description of procedures, are provided in the links below. 

    Please click on the level-specific link below to review the relevant plan.

    As with other classroom-specific questions or concerns, please contact your child’s classroom teacher, counselor, or dean, respectively.

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    September 18, 2021  

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Today’s communication is to provide an update on an incident that happened yesterday after a SHS Football game.

    Last night, our Scarsdale Football team played an away game against Arlington High School on their football field. After the game, as the crowds were dispersing, a fight broke out among the Arlington students in the main parking lot (away from the field where the game was played). The fight resulted in the stabbing and tragic death of a 16-year-old Arlington student and the arrest of a former Arlington student. This incident did not involve any Scarsdale players or spectators.

    After the game, our football students and their coaches remained on the playing field until they boarded the buses to return home. It is unclear if our students were aware that a fight had broken out or that police were arriving to intervene (since our students were across campus from the incident). When our students boarded the buses, the bus drivers were directed to exit the Arlington campus away from the incident area. Our football players may have learned about the fight and stabbing on their way home or after arriving home.

    Although our students were not directly involved in the situation, incidents like this can be difficult to understand and process. Therefore, we will have staffing available for any students (or parents) who want to discuss or debrief this situation, starting on Monday at the High School.

    Consistent with our Safety, Security, and Emergency Management protocols, we will debrief this incident during our next Safety Committee Meeting and review the procedures for our sports teams when they are competing off-campus.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family who lost their child in this terrible act of violence as well as the entire Arlington community.

    With a heavy heart,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    September 14, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Community,

    Today’s communication is to provide updates on outdoor elementary school lunches; Westchester County’s updated quarantine practices; and a new, Westchester County Covid-19 testing program that will begin in our schools within the next two weeks.

    Elementary Outdoor Lunch:
    In an effort to minimize the risk of Covid-19 spread and resulting quarantine, we will be instituting outdoor lunches in all elementary schools as spaces allow. These plans will be implemented starting on Monday, September 20, 2021. On good weather days, we will maximize the number of students outdoors for both lunch and recess, understanding that each building will utilize somewhat different approaches due to their unique, physical footprints. 

    There will still be a need for indoor lunch on inclement weather days, and these will continue to follow the practices that are currently in place. Note: the risk of quarantine does remain for close contacts if there is a positive case identified.

    Each elementary school will be sending out additional information and details regarding specifics for each school site later this week.

    Westchester County Updated Quarantine Practices:
    This weekend Westchester County adjusted its guidelines for quarantine. The County is no longer using Proximate Contact (more than 6 feet, but in the same room for an extended period) as a reason for quarantine. Moving forward, only individuals who are 6 feet or less from a positive case (for more than 15 minutes over a 24 hour period) will need to be quarantined.  

    Please see the updated FAQ for more details on contact tracing and quarantine. 

    Westchester County Covid-19 Testing Within Scarsdale Schools:
    Scarsdale Public Schools is pleased to announce that we will be partnering with Westchester County Department of Health’s testing partners Mount Sinai Health System and C-19 Safety First to offer a free COVID-19 screening testing program.

    The County program is expected to start within the next two weeks and provide the District with resources to test a sizable segment of our school population each week. The program relies on two testing strategies:

    • Voluntary weekly testing of up to 20% of all students, teachers, and staff with special focus on our unvaccinated populations; and
    • Mandated testing of all unvaccinated staff and student-athletes

    The program will use non-invasive, self-collected saliva samples that are suitable for all ages. Samples will be processed using accurate and reliable PCR analysis to identify positive cases. 

    Later this week, the District will send a survey to all families and staff to request consent for testing and a release for Mt. Sinai to share the results with the District. All students, teachers, and staff are highly encouraged to participate in this program. 

    Also, for those observing, G’mar Chatima Tovah.

    Warm Regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    August 19, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Schools’ Community,

    We are excited to welcome all students back on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, for full-time, in-person instruction. When school reopens, the District will continue to follow national and State, along with best practices, as part of our multi-layered, risk mitigation plan. We are confident that these efforts will maximize safe learning and work environments for our students, employees, and their families.

    Our comprehensive 2021-2022 Covid-19 Risk Mitigation Plan will be available on our District’s website this evening and can be accessed by clicking here. It will be reviewed and updated as health metrics change and new or additional guidance becomes available.

    Key points of the District’s Plan, including current guidance, information about communication, and major mitigation efforts, are outlined below. While this will give a good overview of what the coming year will look like, we encourage you to read the plan in its entirety. In addition, we will be presenting the Plan this evening at the Board of Education Meeting, starting at 5:30 in the District Office (masks required), and live-streamed here.

    Covid- 19 Guidance for the 2021-22 School Year:
    The District will maintain safety protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC); the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the New York State Education Department (NYSED); the Westchester County Department of Health (WCDOH), and the District’s Chief Medical Officer/Physician.

    The NYSED and WCDOH have advised school districts to follow CDC and AAP guidelines and work in conjunction with their district’s medical officer for the opening of schools regarding Covid-19 protocols: 

    If Covid-19 transmission levels rise and official guidance warrants further risk mitigation, our schools are prepared for contingencies such as increasing physical distancing to minimize transmission, requiring Covid-19 surveillance testing, and/or preparing to pivot to hybrid or remote instruction (if required by State or County authorities). 

    If Covid-19 transmission levels decline and official guidance allows risk mitigation reductions, our schools are also prepared to remove masking and other Covid-19 risk mitigation efforts.

    Communication/Family and Community Engagement:
    The District remains committed to providing the Scarsdale Schools’ community with information on a regular and ongoing basis and providing opportunities for feedback. To that end, the District will provide regular, written community updates monthly. Additionally, the District will provide opportunities for questions and feedback throughout the year as conditions and metrics change. School-specific information and logistics will also be shared by respective school administrators, and student-related questions should be addressed to their home schools.

    At this time, New York State has not reestablished reporting on the State “Report Card”; however, the District is prepared to comply with all State reporting requirements for Covid-19. In the absence of a State Dashboard, the District will report Covid-19 cases at Board of Education meetings and via community updates. 

    Key Points of 2021-22 Covid-19 Risk Mitigation Plan:

    • Schools will be fully open for all students beginning Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Class schedules and educational programs will return to pre-pandemic norms. The District will not offer hybrid or remote learning options unless required by the State.
    • The health and safety of our school community remain the highest priority for the District.
    • The wellness and social-emotional well-being of our students and staff remain a significant priority. The District continues to work with our District psychologists, clinicians, and counselors to monitor, assess, and intervene in order to best support our students’ social and emotional well-being. Additionally, the District has provided targeted professional development for our staff around social-emotional learning and interventions. 
    • Masks will not be required outside, but masking during large outdoor gatherings/activities may be required.
    • District staff will be required to participate in weekly testing for Covid-19 unless they are vaccinated. Optional testing for students will be offered and unvaccinated student-athletes will be required to test in order to participate in sports.
    • Physical distancing of 3 feet (when possible) will be used in classrooms and other instructional areas.
    • Lunch will be served in traditional and non-traditional spaces using 6 feet physical distancing wherever possible (while maintaining the regular school schedule for students). Outdoor spaces and tents at the Middle and High schools will be available and utilized for outdoor activities.
    • Classes for special area subjects will utilize specific procedures and protocols to address health and safety while shifting towards more typical instruction. 
    • Students who are at risk of not achieving State Learning Standards will continue to be entitled to receive Academic Intervention Services. 
    • All sports will practice and compete during their traditional seasons throughout the 2021-22 school year, subject to New York State, CDC, and AAP guidance. Student-athletes and their families will receive updated information specific to their season(s) and sport(s) as it becomes available.
    • The District will continue with enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection Protocols consistent with CDC guidance. The District will also continue to follow the Scarsdale Schools Ventilation Plan developed last year for the 2021-2022 school year. 
    • Busing will return to a regular schedule and operate on regular routes. Masks on buses will be mandatory. A return to more normal busing levels should also ease traffic in and around each of our schools.
    • Fully vaccinated individuals are not subject to quarantine for exposure at this time.
    • Daily Attestations will no longer be required; however, students and staff who feel ill must not come to school. 
    • The District will limit non-essential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations during school instructional times. Masks and health screening questionnaires will be required for all essential visitors in order to enter the building.
    • Any instances of Covid-19 infection will be reported to the WCDOH and contact tracing will be conducted immediately. 

    Over the next few days, you will be hearing more site-specific information and details from your principals. If you have student- or schedule- specific questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your children’s schools directly.

    With school just around the corner, we are all looking forward to a safe, productive, and learning-filled year ahead!

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Thomas Hagerman
    Superintendent of Schools

     

    August 10, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Schools' Community,

    I hope this email finds you all healthy, happy and enjoying the best this season has to offer.

    As we look forward to opening our schools in the weeks ahead, our planning efforts have and continue to focus on maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our students, educators, and their families. Since the State of Emergency has been rescinded for New York, much of the previous State guidance has expired, and will not be updated or extended. 

    According to the NYS Commissioner of Education, Dr. Betty Rosa, the New York State Education Department will be providing schools with new guidance this week. She has also indicated that it will rely heavily on updated CDC guidance.

    In the meantime and in the absence of updated guidance from the Governor’s Office and the New York State Department of Health, we will continue to rely on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to guide our preparation for the coming school year. The following preliminary decisions have been reached in consultation with our District Physician:

      • All students are expected to attend school in person, five days a week. We will be utilizing our schools’ regular, pre-pandemic schedules. These schedules can be found in the student handbook for each building.
      • Hybrid instruction will not be used this year.
      • Remote/Virtual instruction will be employed only in emergent situations if/when a full class is required to quarantine/isolate, or if the State or County closes our schools due to a severe outbreak. 
      • Activities, extracurriculars, and athletics are scheduled to proceed according to pre-pandemic practices. Health and safety protocols to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 are being finalized in accordance with CDC guidance for schools. The AAP guidance will also be used to inform our work for youth sports and physical activity. The protocols will be posted on the Scarsdale High School Athletics website and communicated to participants and their families as they are completed.
      • Per CDC guidance, all individuals will be expected to wear face coverings/masks while inside District facilities and on District transportation, regardless of vaccination status, starting at the beginning of the school year. This is the same practice as last school year. Masks will not be required outdoors, although unvaccinated individuals will be encouraged to wear them at all times.
      • Standard health/safety mitigation strategies from last year will continue into the year ahead, including cleaning/disinfecting protocols; physical distancing, to the extent possible; handwashing and respiratory hygiene; contact tracing; and the like.
      • The Scarsdale Public Schools will also continue to seek out and offer vaccination opportunities/information and COVID-19 screening testing.

     

     

    Today’s update is intended to provide a very broad overview of our planning processes to date. We recognize that there are likely many logistical questions that remain unanswered. We will provide additional updates prior to the start of school as the Department of Education guidelines are provided and our own plans are finalized. We will also be providing a Back-to-School update next week at a Board of Education Meeting on August 19th at 5:30 p.m.

    While this year will continue to be a little different than the past (with risk mitigation efforts in place to keep everyone safe and healthy), we look forward to welcoming back all our students and to providing them with a meaningful and rewarding educational experience in the year ahead. 

    Enjoy the remaining weeks of summer.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman

     

    July 28, 2021

    Dear Scarsdale Schools’ Community,

    We hope everyone is enjoying the summer and finding time for much-needed rest and rejuvenation. The purpose of this update is two-fold: (1) to recognize the wonderful work done in our Summer SPARK program, and (2) to provide you with what we currently know regarding guidance for schools, and what we anticipate the start of school will look like.

    SPARK:
    Friday marked the culmination of the Summer Project-based Academic Retreat for Kids (SPARK) program. Over 300 rising first through sixth-grade students participated in our three-week program held at Fox Meadow and Greenacres schools. The essential question posed to students in the program asked, “As responsible citizens of our local and global communities, how can we apply our learning to help make our community and the world a better place?” 

    In response, students demonstrated their critical and creative thinking as they worked on a variety of hands-on interdisciplinary activities, including researching and designing a garden for Greenacres, examining how to protect endangered species, designing an animal shelter for local pets, how to encourage greater use of solar energy and composting, and how to improve life in Scarsdale and attract new families to our community. 

    Student engagement and enthusiasm were on display throughout this exciting program. The program was conceived by the Superintendent and his Cabinet, funded by the Board of Education, and designed and coordinated by Kristina Beck, Trish Iasiello, Edgar McIntosh, and William Yang, with support from faculty at Columbia Teachers College. Sessions were led by some of Scarsdale’s exceptional staff, along with expert guest speakers. We would like to recognize and thank all of these individuals who made this program a wonderful experience for our student participants. 

    Planning for the ‘21-’22 School Year: 
    As many of you likely know, the State has not yet provided updated guidance for the start of school in the fall. They have indicated that they will be providing such guidance, but a timeline has not yet been given.

    Schedules:
    At this time, we expect all start and end times and academic schedules to return to our traditional (pre-pandemic) formats. Additionally, we anticipate that after-school programs will commence as they have in the past. Finally, Governor Cuomo has indicated that there will no longer be a virtual option for students, and we are planning accordingly.     

    Masks and Distancing:
    Requirements pertaining to masks and social distancing continue to be uncertain aspects of our planning process. This summer, the NYSDOH provided guidance for summer school programs that made masks optional for vaccinated adults and for all students regardless of vaccination status. This guidance was specifically targeted for summer school programs, and the NYSDOH promised additional guidance for fall. These changes were made while keeping all other school guidance in place, including 3-foot distancing. While this was encouraging, it was done prior to the more recent surge of cases and breakthrough infections caused by the Delta variant. Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced revised guidance for K-12 schools, recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC recommended the same yesterday. We know the NYSDOH has taken direction from these sources in the past, but as of now, the State has not developed new guidance for schools. We will follow the guidance that is issued with respect to the 2021-22 school year.

    Vaccination and Testing:
    Requiring vaccination for students and staff is a topic that is currently being debated on both the national and state levels. Regarding students, New York State has always legislated vaccine requirements for students attending school. As a public school district, we do not have the authority to require vaccines above and beyond what the law requires. Similarly, given the compulsory nature of schooling, testing can not be a requirement for attendance in school without a State mandate. During the school year, our approach to vaccination and testing of students will be consistent with that which we are authorized to enact.

    Regarding our faculty and staff, while the District does have the authority to require either vaccination or Covid-19 testing, such a change in practice would be considered a condition of employment and subject to negotiation with each of the District’s bargaining units. Both Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have announced plans to work with their respective unions to implement a vaccine or testing requirement. We anticipate working with all of our bargaining units around these issues as well.  

    Visitors and Use of Facilities:
    At this time, we expect to reopen our facilities to outside groups contingent on their ability to follow the forthcoming NYSDOH guidance for schools. Similarly, the visitor policy will be dependent on the forthcoming guidance. It is our hope to be able to reopen our buildings to visitors in some capacity.

    While we are still waiting for official guidance, we are confident that the fall will look much more like a traditional school year, and our students will be able to participate in the vast majority of their activities and academic experiences that they enjoyed prior to the pandemic.

    We will continue to provide additional information as more information becomes available to us.

    Until then, enjoy the remaining weeks of summer still ahead.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Thomas Hagerman