11/14 Update from the Superintendent and Call to Action from the Board of Education
Keep Our Schools Open
Update: November 14 2020
Dear Harrison Families,
As we approach Thanksgiving, I write to share critical information and issue a call to action from our Board of Education. We need your help to keep schools open in the coming days and for the remainder of the school year. The Board of Education and I applaud the Governor's tireless efforts to contain the surging spread of Covid 19 occurring in Westchester County and New York State. There is no doubt his rigorous efforts have reduced the spread of the virus.
Last week the Governor implemented a new cluster zone strategy that identifies areas with rising infection rates and places restrictions designed to limit the spread of Covid 19. The mandate impacts our school district's ability to remain open.
Based on a steadily increasing infection rate, Westchester County could be declared a “yellow zone” as early as Tuesday, November 17. If the county or Harrison is declared a "yellow zone," schools may remain open only under the following conditions:
Mandatory weekly testing of students and teachers/staff for in-person settings take effect when the region reaches a yellow zone. The New York State Department of Health has established a percentage of teachers and students/staff who need to be tested as a 7-day rolling average positivity above 2.5% for 10 days. Mandatory 20% weekly testing of students and teachers/staff for in-person settings in order to remain open. (The average for Westchester County on November 14, 2020, was 3.8%.)
If Harrison is declared a yellow zone, without funding and support from New York State, this well-intentioned mandate will result in the closing of our schools until we can implement the testing requirement. To meet the testing mandate, our district must test 840 individuals weekly. Currently, there is no school district in Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, or Putnam Counties able to meet this mandate. Schools are not licensed to administer Covid tests, and the cost of implementation is prohibitive. Currently, the Port Chester schools are closed due to this mandate and are unable to open for the foreseeable future. We should not tolerate any students being denied the ability to attend school and must work together to avoid this outcome.
Elected officials, parents, and students want to be safe and for schools to remain open. We commend the Governor and the Legislature for their ongoing effort to contain the coronavirus.
We need your help to keep our schools open:
The Board of Education asks that you go to its Voter Voice webpage to quickly and simply contact Legislators and the Governor seeking the following support:
Provide all public school districts free PCR self-administered or other New York State Department of Health approved self-administered tests that provide rapid on-site results.
Permit districts to distribute and/or supervise self-administered tests.
In districts unable to coordinate self-administered testing, the New York State Department of Health must contract with laboratories to administer tests on-site.
Time is of the essence as infection rates steadily rise; we all share the objective of making sure children in all communities across New York State remain in school, continue to grow academically, and flourish socially and emotionally. They have lost so much; we need to do all we can – together – to keep our schools open.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our schools and our students. Please voice your support to fund the mandated testing requirement as soon as possible.
Louis N. Wool, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools