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District Announces Plans for the Fall: In School Instruction Only, Masks Required

kidsmasksSchool Superintendent Thomas Hagerman updated the community on the district’s plans for the fall this week. He explained, that in the absence of any direction from the Governor and the NYS Health Department, the district is currently basing their decisions on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The headline is that school will be in person this year and students will be required to wear masks indoors.

Here are the specifics from Dr. Hagerman:

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.

What do parents think of the new guidelines?

Sarah Hopkins said, “I am thrilled school will be full-time, and not "hybrid." I am disappointed the district has not led with requiring vaccinations for all staff and teachers. Vaccinations, not masking, are the strongest mitigators of risk. I do not understand why the district continues to promote disinfection of buildings when this has been wholly unnecessary and unscientific.

As we enter the second school year of masking young children, it’s worth noting W.H.O. and C.D.C./A.A.P. are in total disagreement on this issue. Many similar countries do not enforce masking in schools and there is no evidence of a net benefit. The CDC based its decision to recommend masks even for vaccinated individuals on a study of sex parties in Provincetown, MA. Hardly analogous to schools! Emphasizing masking over vaccines make vaccines appear less essential and powerful than they are. These vaccines are nothing short of miraculous, and we should be doing everything in our power to vaccinate as many adults as possible.

It’s also worth noting the district chose not to follow the AAPs advice last summer to keep schools fully open, even if it meant not distancing. Why it has now decided to follow AAP was not explained.

Lastly, I had hoped the district would address mental health issues head on. Students have suffered this year, there are ample data to demonstrate that. I had hoped we would have a plan in place to help kids as they reenter full-time school.”

Diane Gurden added, “I plan to go with the flow as long as the words "hybrid" or "remote" do not surface. I also hope that we regularly have check-ins, since the environment is so dynamic from both a variant and vaccination level perspective, and that we have transparency related to why decisions are being made or changed. Since the environment is so complex, leveraging the diverse medical expertise in the community would benefit us all, so I hope that we do more of that this year.”

What do you think of the district’s plans? Please comment below.

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