Update from the Superintendent
2021-22 School Opening
August 26, 2021
Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. Henry David Thoreau
Dear Members of the Harrison Learning Community:
Our faculty, staff, administration, Board of Education, and I are excited to begin the 2021-22 school year and welcome all of our students back for in-person learning every day.
These past months students, teachers, and parents felt lost and confused by all that COVID-19 has taken from us. No more, as we emerge with a more profound understanding of the virus and ourselves, an understanding that the well-being of our children is linked to our willingness to care for one another. I urged throughout this pandemic to choose optimism - we enter the new school year enlightened, emboldened, and excited for an experience filled with learning and joy. After examining the most current research, we have developed a comprehensive 2021-22 School Opening plan that prioritizes health and safety and maximizes continuous in-person learning.
This letter highlights some of the most significant changes in the COVID-19 protocols and provides a link to our 2021-22 School Opening webpage. The plan drastically reduces the likelihood of quarantine and school closures. We aspire to have as normal a school year experience as possible for your children. A school year filled with learning in school every day, clubs, concerts, plays, athletics - all of the things that define a wondrous school experience.
The first day of school is Thursday, September 9th. Over the next several days, you will receive correspondence from your principal with school-specific information and class assignments.
The 2021-22 School Opening plan provides comprehensive information and updates regarding health and safety protocols, and outlines significant positive changes, most importantly, in the quarantine guidelines for students and vaccinated adults. Please review the entire plan, which includes the following highlights:
All students will wear masks indoors and, as a result, will not be subject to quarantine even if there's an infected individual within their classroom.
All vaccinated students and adults wearing masks will be excluded from quarantine.
Parents are encouraged to share the vaccination status of their children by completing this Student Vaccination Survey.
Parents are no longer required to fill out a daily Covid screening and will only be required to report if their child is experiencing symptoms.
Modifications to the quarantine protocols make it highly unlikely students, faculty, and staff will be required to quarantine if we adhere to a few basic rules. These changes and our collective vigilance provide our best path to continuous in-person instruction for the entire school year!
Our optimism for the upcoming school year is rooted in first-hand knowledge that these strategies work. Our summer programs served as a learning laboratory to assess our best thinking. This week marked the end of our largest and most successful summer support and enrichment program for students, with more than 1700 registrants. I encourage you to explore the link to see firsthand some of the extraordinary enriching programs our students engaged in throughout the summer. Of significance, the summer programs occurred during the surge of COVID-19 infections linked to the Delta variant. Indoor mask-wearing was required for the more than 70 course offerings. Despite the surge in infections, we experienced only four positive cases. Only the four infected students would have been quarantined if these new quarantine standards had been in place. The results of our summer program and the success of these mitigations make us truly optimistic for a full and meaningful school year ahead!
We have successfully partnered with our unions to ensure that our faculty and staff are vaccinated. This initiative will reduce the risk of spreading the virus and the need to quarantine and minimize disruption to the instructional program for your children.
The opening plan was developed after a thorough review of research and guidance from:
New York State Education Department (NYSED) - Health & Safety Guide for the 2021-22 School Year
Center for Disease Control (CDC) - Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools
American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) - COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools
Westchester County Board of Health - Endorsement of CDC Guidance
We continue to monitor current research and guidance and adapt our protocols accordingly. With your cooperation, your children will receive a rich and rewarding school experience. The school year will include in-person learning every day, mask-free outdoor activities, extracurricular clubs, concerts, plays, arts programming, and interscholastic athletics, including modified sports.
We must all be vigilant to ensure opportunities are not taken from our students by behaviors that could undermine our promise of an uninterrupted school year.
As Thoreau reminds us, Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. Our hard-earned, newly found understanding will help us support your children in the coming year. This success relies on the depth of our commitment to one another. I look forward to and appreciate your ongoing partnership. See you in school!
Louis N. Wool, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools