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Coronavirus Update March 26

Update from the Superintendent of Schools

Update: March 26, 2020

Dear Harrison Learning Community,

You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room. — Dr. Seuss

Who knew Dr. Seuss would be so right? 

This communication is separated into two parts. The first part shares stories about how our teachers remain connected to their students in spite of the distance between them.  The second part provides Important District Information and Updates on our school buildings remaining closed through spring break, and critical updates on services to our school community and the broader community. It also includes links to the latest updates on the Coronavirus and Learning From Home webpages. 

The first part of the update offers evidence of teachers connecting to the minds, but as importantly, the hearts of your children. The attached video titled Reaching Out is a touching example of a teacher creating a sense of normalcy for her students. While it is not as readily visible, the teacher-student connection is as strong as ever! Students are working on their daily lessons, and even remain engaged in extracurricular activities. Yesterday, Science Research Students Sara McSweeney and Julia Kindler each placed third in the virtual New York State Science Research Competition.  Our physical education staff is attending to the minds and bodies of children, as evidenced by this kindergartner engaging in her yoga lesson - one of my favorite photographs of the week.  

Finally, I share a story that moved me profoundly. I am a parent of two daughters, each unique, each needing different support and guidance. In these difficult times, teachers are challenging our strongest students, engaging our youngest students, and staying connected to all of our students.  However, some children require more…for a parent whose child has unique needs, sometimes knowing that your child was happy makes it a great day. It humbles us and reminds us that our journeys and challenges are different; what distinguishes us as a district, and a community is our unrelenting commitment to support and love every child…she wrote...

I hope all is well with you. I just wanted to say thank you for all of your support with my son. He was very happy today and said that he spoke with you face to face on google class time.  He was very happy! Thank you. 

There is no greater joy than when our children are happy, loved and safe. In these confounding moments, human connection has never been more important, especially to children.  As we conclude our second week of Learning From Home, principals, teachers and I were inspired to learn how meaningful it is for students to remain connected to their teachers. We also learned that we need them just as much.

I truly appreciate the extraordinary measures that every member of the Harrison community has taken to ensure that our children feel valued and connected.  I would like to acknowledge the support of the Town of Harrison, the Harrison Police Department, and especially our SROs and the Harrison Children's Center who remain an integral and valuable part of our school community. I am grateful to the Board of Education and my administrative team for their leadership and commitment to serving the needs of our learning community in the face of overwhelming obstacles and challenges.  I am in constant dialogue with the Board, as they maintain a regular meeting schedule.

I conclude this portion of the update by reminding us all that the health and welfare of your children and of your neighbors are inextricably linked. In that spirit, I would like to recognize the heroic work of our nurses, teaching assistants, teacher aides, school aides, custodians, and school safety personnel. Working side-by-side with our administrators they are providing childcare for medical personnel and first responders. I thank each and every one of them for this incredible commitment to their community.   

Please continue reading for Important District Information and Updates. Once again, I thank you for your continued support and patience.  

Louis N. Wool Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Important District Information and Updates

Our School Buildings Remain Closed

School buildings will remain closed and Learning From Home will continue.  Schools are scheduled to reopen April 13th. However, I am monitoring events daily and if warranted schools could be closed beyond April 13th. The Board of Education and I will make this decision solely based on the safety and well-being of your children and our faculty and staff.

School Calendar & Spring Break 

Spring break (April 6-10) will occur as scheduled; no online classes will take place during that time.  Students, teachers, faculty, and staff will take a much-needed break.  To help parents and students during this week of ‘staycation’ we are preparing resources to keep students engaged in educational and fun activities. These will be added to the Learning From Home webpage soon. At the conclusion of Spring break, we will return to learning – either back at school or Learning From Home. I will inform you of any extension of the school closure. 

All three unused snow days on April 13 & 14 and May 26 will be instructional days, and school will be in session on those days either in school or Learning From Home.

Response to Evolving Coronavirus Pandemic

Social Distancing: Medical experts and scientists agree that social distancing is the most effective way to curb the spread of the Coronavirus. Experts recommend we all behave “as if” we have the virus and limit contact with others. We have closed all school playgrounds and encourage you to limit your children’s exposure to the nuclear family. Playdates, pick up games, and other group activities should be strictly prohibited. NPR offers guidance: It's Time to Get Serious About Social Distancing on implementing social distancing. Help us save lives.

Coronavirus Exposure: As of this Friday, March 27, we will have vacated our schools for 14 days, the recommended isolation period for the Coronavirus. Prior to the 14-day timeline, the District informed necessary individuals when we received confirmation of a positive Coronavirus case according to the established processes of state and county health officials. In the future, the District will defer to health officials to make appropriate notifications of positive Coronavirus cases.  

Instructional and Academic Updates

Monitoring Student Progress: Our teachers have done a remarkable job engaging students remotely. Teachers and principals continually monitor student participation and progress. It is important that students log in every day and complete their school work. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher or principal.

Testing Changes and Cancellations

The administration of IB exams has been canceled. The College Board is developing an alternative method for the administration of the AP exams. The College Board is offering free, online AP preparation for students. All New York State K - 8th-grade exams are canceled. Comprehensive information on testing and related links can be found on the  Testing Information webpage. We are adding resources for parents on the Learning From Home website.  Please visit regularly.

Supporting Our Community

Childcare and Support for Medical Professionals and First Responders

During this extraordinary crisis, the District is providing academic support, supervision, and childcare for children (ages 3-12) of medical professionals and first responders from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday. The Harrison Children Center will provide childcare to preschool children and the Town of Harrison is lending support to help fund this program. If you or someone you know requires this service please complete this survey immediately.

Resources for Students and Families 

Food Assistance: The District is providing free breakfast and lunch for eligible students. We are changing and streamlining this process to make it easier for families and volunteers. Beginning Monday, March 30th meal distribution will be reduced to twice a week: Monday and Wednesday between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.  Monday pickup includes breakfast and lunch for two days. Wednesday pickup provides breakfast and lunch for three days. If you are currently eligible but have not yet applied, please complete the request form.  If your circumstances have changed and you are in need of Food Assistance please contact your principal. All inquiries are confidential.

Technology Support  

If your child needs a device or if your family does not have internet access, the district will provide a device and/or a mobile hotspot to deliver internet access. If you require the support please complete this form. If you have questions contact Brian Seligman (914-638- 3389) or (