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2/26 Update from the Superintendent

Update on Returning to Full In-Person Learning

Update: FEBRUARY 26 2021

Accepting that the world is full of uncertainty and ambiguity does not and should not stop people from being pretty sure about a lot of things.
                     Julian Baggini, British Philosopher  

Dear Harrison Families, 

I write to update you on our plans to return all students to in-person instruction. As we prepare to bring all of our students back to school, there is uncertainty for your children, our teachers, and you. 

We have worked diligently to devise a research-based multilayered mitigation plan to make students, faculty, and staff safe. In my February 3rd update, I explained our multi-layered mitigation strategy to return all students to full in-person instruction. The letter stated while our timeframe is aggressive, it is also fluid and dependent on: 

  • Vaccination access for faculty and staff.

  • Installation of air filtration units in classrooms.

Below you will find details about the latest developments and the updated timeline for returning children to school. Much has occurred since my last communication.  We continue to plan for the safe return of all our students. 

February 9
  • A survey of faculty/staff indicated many already had received a first/second vaccine dose. Our faculty was forced to work far too hard to gain access to vaccines, but we are proud of their efforts and successes.

February 12
  • We received our first Covid-19 test kits to begin testing in schools, resulting from our successful December advocacy campaign to acquire free tests from NYSDOH. Our parents generated over 700 letters to legislators and the governor in less than a week.

February 15
February 19
  • I met with the New York State Department of Health Covid-19 School Team to advocate for updates/changes to their August 25, 2020 guidelines. My purpose was to advocate reforms to improve students’ and teachers’ classroom experience. (see below*)

  • The first delivery of air filtration systems was delayed due to a snowstorm in Texas; manufacturing occurs in Houston.

February 24
  • The air filtration manufacturer, Nailor Industries, is back online. They will increase production and provide HCSD with 60 units per week, doubling the number of units originally promised weekly. These filtration units and desk barriers will be placed in every classroom.

Today, February 26th, I write to update you on the current targets for a full return to school for all students. Please remember these timelines can change as a result of factors beyond our control. 

  • We are targeting a full return for all kindergarten through 5th-grade students the week of March 22.  

  • Our goal is to return all 6th through 12th-grade students to in-person instruction after spring recess, but no later than the end of the 3rd quarter. More details on the return dates for middle and high school students will be provided before spring recess.

  • Parents may continue to select virtual learning for their children for the remainder of the school year. 

  • Information sessions will be held virtually before the full reopening in each school. Parents will receive an email invitation from their principals. Access the information sessions schedule here.

  • Your continued support in transporting your children to school will help us maintain social distance on buses. 

We will share details of our plans for safety, social-emotional well-being, and instruction during the virtual information sessions. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions of the principal, members of our leadership team, and me.  

I continue to monitor the ever-changing conditions and evolving research. The safety of your children is our most compelling responsibility. Your support and advocacy have been invaluable as we strive to bring a sense of normalcy and joy in going to school.

Accepting that the world is full of uncertainty and ambiguity does not and should not stop people from being pretty sure about a lot of things.

While there is ambiguity and uncertainty in many things, our collective intellect and passion will ensure the well-being of your children – nothing is more important. 

We are anxious to see your children in our schools, on our fields, and at our playgrounds. Choose optimism.


Louis N. Wool, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Summary of  Meeting with NYSDOH and Advocacy Initiatives*

The purpose of my meeting with the New York State Department of Health's Covid 19 School Team on February 19th was to illuminate inconsistencies between their guidance of August 25, 2020, and the CDC’s recommendations from February 12, 2021. I made three requests for change: 

  • The rules for quarantining at the NYSDOH are different from those of the CDC. Adults that are fully vaccinated are no longer required to be quarantined, according to the CDC. New York State still requires the quarantine of vaccinated individuals and should change its guidance to align with the CDC.

  • I asked for the option of providing face shields to all students instead of desk barriers. Face shields would optimize ventilation and the instructional experience for students and teachers. While denied, the group committed to bringing the recommendation to the entire Covid School Team for review. Barriers will be installed in classrooms.

  • Finally, I asked the state to provide every school district with the community infection rate recommended in the most recent CDC guidance. The CDC recommends monitoring community spread to determine the level of mitigation required in schools.  We will monitor infection rates in our schools through our weekly testing. The group committed to bringing the recommendation to the entire Covid School Team for review.

  • The District has launched two advocacy campaigns since December. The first resulted in free antigen Covid-19 testing for all public schools throughout this school year. The second campaign, still underway, advocates for making vaccines available at the school level for all faculty and staff.