May 26, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
I hope you had an enjoyable and safe Memorial Day weekend. It has been encouraging that recently reported COVID related numbers in NYS have shown improvement. Nevertheless, we are still in a serious crisis and I appreciate you maintaining vigilant safety practices. Below please find a presumed modified June calendar and CRS & AMS medication(s) pick-up information.
Modified School Calendar
Regionally and throughout New York State, school calendars have been adjusted in preparation for the end of the school year. I am sharing this so that our learning community can plan accordingly. At present, I am very confident that this proposed calendar will be placed on the June 10, 2020 Board of Education meeting agenda for approval. The modified calendar is subject to change, if we receive varying guidance from Governor Cuomo’s office.
Note - The above is a projected modification, not yet approved.
In June there will be many end of year tasks to accomplish and celebrations that will be carried out with utmost safety. You will be receiving additional dates and information, specific to each school by this Friday. The district calendar ends with two designated Professional Development (PD) days for staff to collaborate and plan for next school year.
On Friday, May 29, from 10:00 am -12:00 pm there will be a parent pick-up of medication(s) remaining at school. School nurses will be present at Ardsley Middle School’s main entrance and the Concord Road School’s primary entrance. Please wear a mask/facial covering. Ardsley High School has already disbursed any medication(s).
May 17, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
This week’s update is extensive but will provide important information regarding:
- The schedule for the upcoming week
- The proposed 2020-2021 School Budget
- A proposed amendment to Policy 7241 “Directory Information”
- Update on the Survey and Re-Entry Task Force
- Steps to modify and finalize the 2019-2020 School Calendar (specifically June)
But, before I begin, “Thank you” for being our educational partners through this very difficult time. The Goldilocks Principle of “just right” for all learners/families has been challenging and we’re still working really hard, learning, growing, and adjusting to best meet the needs of our students and families. We are grateful for your partnership and the strength of our learning community.
The Upcoming Week and Professional Development
Memorial Day (5/25) is an official holiday and Friday, 5/22 will be a school day for Ardsley students. The day will be organized as a Professional Development (PD) session for all faculty from 9:00 am -12:00 pm. The school day will be a “flexible day” with students starting after noon. Additional information may be posted and/or shared prior to noon.
The PD for grades 5-12 is structured with high quality facilitators from Innovate Designs for Education (IDE) and in preparation of a hybrid instructional model that may be necessary as we reinvent schooling during this crisis and in the future. We have a longstanding and positive relationship with IDE and will utilize them as a resource in preparation for the 2020-2021 school year.
Ardsley’s 2020-2021 Budget Proposal
There has been a concerted effort to be fiscally responsible, responsive to our community’s needs, maintain programs, and be adaptive to our changing world. The Superintendent’s Recommended 2020-2021 School Budget was presented at the 3/31/20 Board of Education Meeting. Since then we have learned of an expected reduction in state aide and rescheduled Budget and Election Vote on June 9, 2020 by absentee ballots. The Board of Education (BOE) has a proposed 2020-2021 School Budget. In an effort to share this information prior to a vote for the BOE approval we are holding a special Budget Work Session meeting tomorrow night, May 18th at 7 pm. A notice of the meeting was emailed on Saturday with an opportunity to submit questions. The public can email written comments or questions to Toni Tiso, District Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 pm Monday, 5/18 that will be read aloud at the meeting.
Modified 2019-2020 School Calendar
Similar to many NYS school districts, and based on the way COVID impacted each school calendar, modifications are necessary. Holding remote instruction during Spring Break and 5/22 has helped position us well. As we enter the home stretch, I am finalizing a proposed modified calendar for the remainder of 2019-2020. The June calendar, including the last day of instruction for students, professional development plans, report card/grading deadlines, and other important dates will be clarified shortly. I am conferring with our attorneys to assure that we are meeting all of the NYS Executive Orders, as it is imperative that I position us well and not jeopardize the District in any way. Presuming a modified calendar is approved at the Board Meeting on 5/19, each building will finalize plans for the remaining tasks and events in June. Details will be shared with you by Friday, 5/22.
Proposed Policy 7241 “Directory Information” Amendment
The District maintains a Board policy (Policy 7241) governing confidentiality of student records and student record information in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA is a federal law that requires school districts to obtain parents’ written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from their child’s education records. However, the District may disclose certain appropriately designated “directory information” without written consent, unless parents opt-out following written notice. Directory information is generally not considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if released.
When extended school closures and distance learning became a reality, there was an identified need to add three items to the definition of “Directory Information” contained in District Policy 7241. The amendments were directly associated with distance learning and live interactions associated with the use of virtual learning platforms such as Google Meets and related interactive instructional technology. Hence, the below three amendments are the only changes to the policy. Ardsley’s “directory” information will now include “Email Address”, “Video image” and “Voice print”. If approved at this Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, a written notice explaining the Policy changes will be emailed to parents; the parent notice will be similar to the District’s annual FERPA notice. The amended written notice to District parents will explain the changes to the definition of directory information, afford parents an opportunity to exclude the release of information if they choose to do so by the specified May 31, 2020 deadline and clarify that a decision to opt-out of this new directory information may impact their child’s full participation in certain types of distance learning instruction. The annual written notice required by FERPA will be provided to parents again in September for the 2020-2021 school year and will be due by September 30, 2020.
Survey Results: Dr. Wilson will be reporting out on the family survey at Tuesday night’s BOE meeting. In general, feedback was positive and often praised the amazing effort being made by all of our teachers. As predicted, some of the feedback will challenge the District to consider and find ways to enhance our online practice. PD will be happening on May 22, and subsequently in June, as we organize and plan for the 2020-2021 school year.
Re-Entry Task Force: Dr. Wilson will be launching this task force with the community on Tuesday, 5/19 with representatives. Everyone will have a chance to provide feedback as we plan for next year. I am working with local Superintendents and NYSED so that we’re prepared and in alignment with expectations and safety requirements.
I hope you and your family had an enjoyable and safe weekend. Sending all of my best wishes this week!
May 9, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
On the eve of Mother’s Day it is important to wish all of our Moms the love, health, and happiness that they so deserve. Thank you for your indelible impact on the world.
Continual Learning Plan - Family Survey
Our goal with the Continual Learning Program is to keep learning front and center in the lives of every student in Ardsley. It is also our goal for the faculty to be learning and improving our instruction, feedback, and assessment skills in the distance learning environment. While we continue to work collaboratively with each other and with experts in the field of distance and hybrid learning environments to ensure that every student is learning to their potential, your feedback is also essential to the process. Follow this link to participate in this survey. Please respond by Friday, May 15. There are a handful of open-ended questions. Thank you in advance for your input. As always, if you have an immediate question or concern about your children's needs, please reach out to your teachers, your building principal or to Dr. Wilson directly.
Social Distancing and Masks
Although a couple of snowflakes just fell before my eyes, the weather will warm up again. Hence, people will want to be outside in public places. I remind you that we are still in the midst of a health crisis and we must stay vigilant with social distancing and the wearing of masks/facial coverings. It is important to foster our sense of community by treating one another with respect and by doing our part. There have been a limited number of infractions reported to me. If you observe a potentially concerning social distancing matter an option is to politely inquire and/or remind the group. I also consulted with the Ardsley Police Chief, Anthony Piccolino, and he has advised that a community member can report such a matter to our Police Department (914) 693-1700.
On April 30th Governor Cuomo announced the closure of schools for the remainder of the school year. It is important to still embrace Ardsley traditions and celebrations, especially during this challenging time. Students from each building will be celebrated safely. We are pivoting from traditional in person experiences to alternative ways to still celebrate our graduating seniors and the moving up grades (8th & 4th). Planning teams will reach out to individuals and groups such as Ardsley Education Foundation (AEF), Ardsley Parent and Teacher Association (PTA), and the Ardsley Panther Booster Club for support and sponsorship.
April 19, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
For starters, I hope you are all doing as well as can be expected. I am so sorry for the hardships many of you are enduring. I’ll continue to offer positive thoughts, prayers, and support during this time of crisis.
The Governor recently shared that New York State’s PAUSE and our subsequent school closure has been extended again through May 15th. It has also been stated that this pandemic won’t end for us like the flip of a light switch. This has prompted the need to project a long-term closure and a need to position ourselves for the fourth marking period. It is this transition to the fourth quarter that requires some shifts in our approach:
- Work is underway surrounding new instruction and grading at each building. This work has a specific focus on aligning the third and fourth marking periods as well as final grades and report cards with emerging State guidelines.
- There is initial work in ascertaining effective/efficient assessment of learning. The need to integrate work that defines educational outcomes and also captures evidence of learning during the fourth quarter.
- A building schedule will be coordinated to assist with the overall scheduling of instructional days during our extended closure. The finalized schedule will start on Monday, 4/27.
- Finally, the use of live connection/instruction is now an expectation for all teachers. Live connections for instructional support, feedback, and community building for our students is advancing. By 4/27 all teachers are expected to have a minimum live connection per week and there will be professional flexibility. This change will deepen connections with students and round out our teachers' solid work during this new normal.
As we approach the fourth quarter please keep in mind:
- On Tuesday, 4/21 from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm Faculty and Staff may safely access buildings to gain instructional items, etc.
- Monday, 4/20 - Friday, 4/24 Professional Development will continue to be offered - Approximately 30 “Google Meets” sessions will be offered and others that focus on supporting Student Executive Function and Social Emotional Learning online.
- School Nutrition Program transitions to deliveries to our Families - “Grab and Go” breakfast and lunch will become a “Doorstep Drop”. This free program is for all Ardsley students. To participate please complete the following survey by 11:59 pm on Monday, 4/20. Deliveries will begin on Wednesday, 4/22 and will continue on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week.
- On Friday, 4/24 8:30 am - 12:00 pm the district will be scheduling Professional/Collaborative Time for Faculty and Staff. Friday morning will be set aside as professional time with no instruction at that time. However, instructional materials will be shared and/or posted prior or after noon.
- May 15th or later - Decisions about many end of year activities, celebrations, graduations, summer camp, etc. will start to be made. Regardless of how this school year ends we will be thoughtful and consider all viable options to safely engage and celebrate our students and Ardsley traditions.
On an aside, but extremely important for our community and school district, we need your assistance in completing the United States Census 2020. Our community has a completion rate of approximately 60% and the final numbers will have a significant impact on many things including federal funding to local communities for schools, roads, and other public services. If you have not done so already, please complete your United States 2020 Census here now or asap. In the above link you can find additional information and options to complete online, by phone, or by mail. I urge you to take the approximate 10 minutes to complete the safe, secure, and confidential questionnaire. Thank you.
I recently shared a Challenge and Change video to help support our learning community. As John Gordon stated, “By going through this we will be stronger, we will be wiser, we will be better, by taking this on.” It doesn’t appear that way now and won’t be easy. I do know that we are “Ardsley Strong” and will overcome this crisis. I very much look forward to when we come together again.
April 13, 2020 A Message from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
Recently, I was looking for guidance and ways to further support our community. I have always valued and at times leaned on the wisdom of author and motivational speaker, Jon Gordon. Luckily, I found a recent webinar of his Strategies to Stay Positive Through Challenges & Change. His free webinar was created in a response to the coronavirus. I condensed the webinar, added graphics, and inserted some personalized messaging. The final cut is a 27 minute video, which may sound long but goes fast. The basic and pragmatic messaging can serve our community well. I encourage you to view this important video.
April 8, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
For starters, heartfelt love and support to you, your families, and our community. This pandemic has hit home and has changed our world forever. On behalf of the district, sincerest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones, or are enduring illness. Out of respect our District and Village flags will be flown at half-staff today, in honor of one of our Ardsley parents. Gratitude and support to our brave first responders, front line medical professionals/staff, and those individuals serving our needs.
Thank you again for being educational partners and for making the transition to remote learning as smooth as possible. Your incredible spirit of collaboration and flexibility is appreciated while our Continual Learning plan evolves. I’d like to share the latest updates.
School Closure Extension
It is apparent that we will need to further demonstrate our strength and collective perseverance as Governor Cuomo announced on Monday that he has extended the state-wide school closure through April 28th. Our Continual Learning plan will continue to be implemented and refined. We will also focus on further supporting our students, families, and community during this difficult time.
Social/Physical Distancing Concerns
Concerns have been raised about people not adhering to social distancing directives. Our Police department, Mayor, and I have increased the monitoring of outdoor spaces in our community. The governor has also increased the fine from $500 to $1,000. Playgrounds have been closed. I will close down other areas on school grounds if there is continued unsafe behavior. I join our Village in supporting the CDC recommendation to wear a face mask if out in public. Please be hyper-vigilant with physical distancing now so that we can keep our community safe and come back together sooner.
Regents Exam Cancellation
The New York State Education Department is canceling the June 2020 administration of the NYS High School Regents Examination Program in response to the statewide closures of schools and districts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All students enrolled in a regents course will receive graduation credit for that regents without the final exam provided they pass the course for the year. This includes courses with lab-hour requirements. For seniors who were planning to take a regents exam for graduation credit, please contact your guidance counselor. We are confident that no student will be unfairly penalized by the State's decision, but we will work with any student who has concerns based on special circumstances.
Finally, to those who will be celebrating holidays this week, I hope you are able to find some silver linings and enjoy the time.
March 31, 2020 Spring Break Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
On Friday, March 27th I informed you that we would be having our Spring Break as scheduled from April 6th - April 10th. This was based upon Governor Cuomo’s announcement that all New York State Schools would remain closed through April 15th. However, the language in the Governor’s subsequent Executive Order 202.11, requiring these mandatory school closures, made clear that he expects schools to use any and all scheduled vacation days to continue our continual learning, food distribution, and childcare program, or potentially forfeit a portion or all of our remaining state aid. The Deputy Secretary of Education and State Education Department recently clarified that this directive included the upcoming Spring Recess.
As a result, there will be no Spring Recess. Students and teachers will continue to engage in our Continual Learning plan during April 6 - April 10, as we have for the past several days. In addition, Monday, April 13 will also be a regular day of Continual Learning and not a conference day as it is listed on the original calendar. Our family “grab and go” food distribution will continue to take place Monday and Wednesday from 9:30 am-11:00 am at Ardsley High School. Childcare for first responders and health care workers will also maintain their established schedule.
This news is likely to bring mixed emotions and I wish we were not in this situation. I understand that next week, many of our families and faculty & staff members will be observing some of the most solemn days in their religious calendar. I acknowledge and respect the importance of these religious days. While we have been directed to maintain our Continual Learning plan we understand that students and staff may be observing these religious holidays, specifically Passover and Good Friday, which could impact online availability. With the holidays in mind, an absence will be an excused absence and there will be flexibility with due dates and assignments for students.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to our employees for all that they have done and will continue to do as we navigate this crisis together. To our parents, you are unsung heroes supporting your children, working, and keeping your families safe - Thank you for being our educational partners. I would also like to express appreciation to our families for their understanding, patience, flexibility, feedback, and support. It is greatly appreciated.
March 27, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
In an effort to keep you informed, I am updating you on the latest news, decisions, and direction.
- Today, our Governor announced an additional two week closure of New York schools through April 15, 2020. We will carry out our Ardsley Continual Learning Plan next week as we further develop and bolster our on-line connections with our students.
- We will also continue with our scheduled Spring Break. This decision is consistent with regional school districts. There will be no Continual Learning between April 6-10.
- The Ardsley “Grab and Go” School Nutrition Program is still operational. We are distributing breakfast and lunch regularly from AHS to all Ardsley School District families. Next week’s revised distribution schedule is Monday 3/30, Wednesday 4/1, and Friday 4/3 from 9:30 am - 11:00 am. Meals are being distributed for up to three days at a time. If we proceed into an extended closure, after break, we may distribute directly to homes.
- On Wednesday, at our weekly Ardsley Village Emergency Response leadership team meeting, it was reported that people are generally not congregating in groups throughout Ardsley. As we enter into the weekend and you begin to feel the challenges associated with isolation, please continue to practice vigilant social distancing and safe / healthy habits. Now is not the time to become carefree. It is critical to increase diligent efforts. The restrictions that we impose on ourselves now can mark the difference in people’s lives and help in getting us back together as a community as soon as possible.
- During this unprecedented time there is an understandable need to focus resources and support New York State’s imperative health care efforts. The Governor signaled today that education aid will be decreased in 2020-2021. Our Board of Education and I recognize the need to put forth a responsible 2020-2021 budget that reflects the needs of our community. Please know that I will work along with our district leaders to protect programs and support all students.
- In preparation for next year, if you are aware of any families with a 2020-2021 Kindergarten student, who have not submitted a registration packet yet, please direct them to the information on the Concord Road Elementary school’s home page. If you are aware of new families with students who will be entering our schools in grades first through 12th grade, please have them contact Ms. Fran Monteleone at email@example.com. Also, for parents with children currently in Kindergarten through 11th grade, please make us aware of any changes in their enrollment status for 2020-2021 by contacting Ms. Fran Monteleone.
This is a challenging time for all of us. I know there are questions about the remainder of the school year. I will continue to update you as pertinent information becomes available. We are working hard to control what we can and are seeking new ways to continue with our strong Ardsley traditions and celebrations.
March 26, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
Today, LoHud reported that there were three positive COVID-19 cases in Ardsley. According to the Westchester Department of Health’s precautionary advice during this crisis it is important for individuals to monitor themselves. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. If you have any of the above symptoms you can contact your healthcare provider, call 211 Westchester Coronavirus hotline, and in more serious cases call the NYS COVID-19 testing hotline at (888) 364-3064.
Moving forward, if you find yourself in this situation and want guidance/support please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please continue to be diligent in social distancing and stay safe.
March 22, 2020 Ardsley Essential Child Care Plan for First Responders/Health Care Professionals
Ardsley Essential Child Care Plan for First Responders/Health Care Professionals responding to Coronavirus crisis who do not have viable child care options.
The Governor's Executive Order directed every New York District to close for a period of two weeks. There appears to be a likelihood that this order will be renewed. The Ardsley School District is following through with three government required actions during this global crisis. We have started the implementation of two of the three tasks; Continual Learning and the School Nutrition program - ensuring the availability and distribution of meals for our Ardsley families. The third task, emergency child care, is one that may be more necessary in the days and weeks ahead.
Ardsley Essential Child Care (AECC) Plan
We plan to provide FREE essential child care, with a strict emphasis on serving children of parents whose work is critical to the ongoing Coronavirus response effort. The child care is solely for first responders and health care professionals who have no options for their child care. In order to support our community with AECC we’re asking for information to help schedule and organize this emergency service.
If you are interested in using the AECC, please complete the following brief survey. We ask that you complete the survey asap and it will remain open for your convenience. We will monitor the responses daily. You will be contacted once a schedule is developed. We are targeting a Wednesday, 3/25 start.
- The program will serve up to thirty pre-Kindergarten through 12 year old children during the hours of 8 am - 6 pm.
- We are initially planning for Monday through Friday with two volunteer shifts from approx. 7:45 am - 1:15 pm and 1:15 - 6:15 pm. If necessary we will stay open seven days a week.
- Attendees and voluntary staff will have their temperatures taken daily upon arrival and be assessed for any symptoms.
- There will be up to 10 children in any of three designated groups.
- The program will be held at Concord Road Elementary School in three separate rooms on different floors or in different wings of the school.
- The groups will be provided proper care, attention, and support.
- We will practice healthy habits. We will also regularly disinfect surfaces and any common spaces.
- This program will primarily support Ardsley families and at some juncture could expand to provide support to parents in nearby districts or parents who work in or near Ardsley.
We will be finalizing the staffing of the program with an administrator/director, nurse, and adult supervisors/care givers. Many thanks to our Ardsley PTA for agreeing to sponsor individual crafts, projects, and supplies for the attendees.
Please consider this opportunity as a way that we can support our first responders and health care professionals.
Thank you for all you are doing for our community and for being the first line of defense against the Coronavirus.
March 22, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
Over the past three weeks, the Coronavirus has quickly become a global pandemic. Through regular communication, I have been transparent and hope you recognize that this update comes from a good place. At this time our government officials are sternly reminding us to follow the government's orders in the strictest way possible. As your Superintendent, I must echo the government's directives and urge you to respond appropriately to this increased concern and call for action, in this case arguably inaction.
All concerned: The government order mandates that New Yorkers halt any gatherings “of any size, for any reason” for the foreseeable future.
Students: This must be an extremely challenging time for you. You will be supported. I must also stress that you do not gather in any groups, whether it be two or ten people.
Parents: Please help ensure this mandate and keep your children at home until the pandemic is under control. It has been expressed that this is a “shelter in place” and if you can be home, you should be home and make the most of it.
In Ardsley, we talk a lot about global citizenship and civic duty. Right now is the time to exercise your civic duty and demonstrate the words and principles we speak. We need to especially hold these duties true during these troublesome times. It is our civic responsibility to the generations prior (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) and to generations ahead, which include your younger siblings, to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus which has already proven to know no boundaries.
In our current situation, please stay home and follow the rules and accept this time as a mere inconvenience compared to the enormous human consequence of not abiding by what is being asked of us. Our actions are needed to protect one another and potentially save countless lives.
Let's be able to look back at this and honestly say that we did our part, we did all we could. Let’s not look back and say we could have or should have responded differently.
March 18, 2020 PM Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
The most important focus of each community member right now is safety. I continue to seek the most helpful information to support our learning community. Expert opinions, guidance, and endless collaborative work has been integral as we make informed decisions Below please find additional information on Continual Learning and Safety & Wellness.
Learning from Home - Ardsley “Continual Learning” Plan
I recognize that this past week may have been challenging with many parents being thrust into an amended role. Thank you for being educational partners. I am excited to share that starting on Friday, 3/20/20 we will begin our Ardsley Continual Learning program with an expanded launch on Monday, 3/23/20. Tomorrow, faculty and staff will be collaborating and finalizing continual learning for the next ten school days. There is a detailed document with more specificity that will be shared with you tomorrow. Our approach is designed to challenge students' thinking, tap into their abilities to work independently, and keep them current with curriculum content whenever possible. We are sending a detailed list of expectations, by school, after tomorrow’s planning sessions.
Safety and Wellness
Today, Ardsley Village leaders began meeting regularly as we plan and ensure that our community members are safe despite the threat of coronavirus. Meredith Robson, Village Manager/Emergency Management Coordinator organized and facilitated an Emergency Response meeting with the Fire Chief, Police Chief, ASVAC Captain, Highway Foreman/Sanitation Dept., Building Inspector, and myself. There were assurances that we are all prepared to deliver essential support despite this ongoing crisis. There are systems in place to ensure that our citizens' needs can be met. Some basic suggestions:
- If you are ill and are uncertain if it is COVID-19 - Please call your healthcare provider or 211 (Westchester County COVID-19 Hotline)
- If you are experiencing an “Emergency” - Please call 911
- You are encouraged to stay active and socially engaged. This is a challenging thing for many of us. Please respond to suggested CDC guidance to maintain appropriate social distancing of 6 feet and do not gather in large groups. This is a concern that has been raised by many individuals - we need your assistance.
I recognize that students and families may need emotional support during this very difficult time. If you are experiencing anxiety or stress and you feel you need support, please call the Department of Community Mental Health office at (914) 995-1900. In addition, the District’s mental health professionals will be available to support you and your children. Starting Thursday our counselors can be reached via email.
As always, I sincerely appreciate your continued support and understanding. Together we will get through this challenging time due to the strength of our partnership as a community.
March 16, 2020 PM Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
Today, the Westchester County Executive, George Latimer declared a state of emergency due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Included in his executive orders was a closure of all schools for 14 days. The intention of this closure is to help mitigate the spread of the virus in our schools. After discussions with county and health officials, and based on guidance from the CDC, the Ardsley School District will have an extended closure through March 31, 2020. At present, this information is subject to changes based upon ongoing updates. In addition, we postponed tonight’s Board of Education meeting to provide notice of the shift to a “remote meeting” format.
Additionally, as the details of the State and Federal strategy addressing the coronavirus continue to emerge, their recommendations are likely to change. Therefore, families should prepare for the potential of longer school closures. As a result of this, I ask for your continued flexibility, patience, and support. Information regarding any potential changes to this year’s District calendar will be shared in the near future as our current priority is to focus on providing “continual learning” and supporting the well-being of our entire school community.
In the Ardsley School District we remain dedicated to serving the educational needs of our students. In doing so, we have developed and are finalizing plans to support student learning while they are at home. Please be reminded that during the school closures, all athletic and extracurricular activities are canceled.
School Nutrition Program
To assist our Ardsley families with meals during this long-term emergency closing we will provide food. We are organized to begin this service for all of our families starting on Wednesday, 3/18/20.
Please follow this link for more information and directions.
Learning from Home - Ardsley “Continual Learning” Plan:
We recognize that continual learning is not a replacement for face-to-face instruction, but it does provide an opportunity for students to continue to be engaged in their learning during this time of crisis. While continual learning through remote experiences cannot replicate the rich learning environment of our classrooms, labs, studios, gymnasiums, and libraries, we can provide experiences that will challenge students' thinking, tap into their abilities to work independently, and keep them current with curriculum content whenever practicable. We will send an outline of the basic expectations for students in each school organized by grade and course. Our plan to support students with special needs will also be included in that outline.
Preparing for continual learning online requires extensive planning as well as the equitable distribution of materials and technology so that all Ardsley students can access learning. Our faculty did a great deal of planning today, and we have almost completed the distribution of necessary technology and materials to those in need. The remainder of the materials will be accessible online. I will announce the start date along with detailed plans of Ardsley Continual Learning this week.
As always, I sincerely appreciate your continued support and understanding. Together we will get through this challenging time due to the strength of our partnership as a community.
March 16, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
We continue to navigate through this uncertain time and are thoughtfully adapting to best serve and protect the Ardsley learning community. In light of a presumed extended closure we are allowing faculty, staff, and students limited access into our buildings. Please read the below and act accordingly:
Plan to Gather Personal Belongings
Note - The below is subject to change
During the below time periods please enter and exit from the main office to control the number of individuals in our buildings at any given time. This protocol is in an abundance of caution. Security and Building Administrators will assist with the flow of entrants and supervision.
Today from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Faculty, Staff and Students will have limited access to buildings. Students will also be allowed to retrieve personal belongings with limited access, in a limited amount of time, and only a limited amount of students. Security and Administrators will assist with the flow of entrants and supervision.
Note - A continuation of disinfecting will occur after 4 pm tonight.
If still allowable:
Tomorrow from 8:00 am -10:00 am faculty and staff may access all buildings to gather personal or professional items.
Tomorrow from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm students will be allowed to retrieve belongings with limited access, in a limited amount of time, and only a limited amount of students. Security and Administrators will assist with the flow of entrants and supervision.
Note - A continuation of disinfecting will occur after 2:00 pm tomorrow.
Additional information, as I know you care about all of our students and families:
Devices either have or will be provided to students today to students who absolutely need a device. This is also occurring with faculty and staff. We want to assure that individuals can access the internet for time away from school/work.
We continue planning in order to provide food, on a regular basis to any Ardsley family. This is scheduled to start as early as this Wednesday. This will further support our community with an allowance for any district families in need to come and pick up food. Grab and go is the point of service and we will house this out of the Ardsley High School cafeteria. This will be communicated again once there is a presumed extended closure and details are finalized.
I appreciate your understanding and support as we each continue to traverse through a new time for all of us. I'm confident that we'll rise to the occasion and work together in the best interest of all concerned.
March 15, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
It has been a long week and we are anticipating that we may have some long days and possibly weeks ahead for our schools. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we support one another during this surreal time. Last week I announced an impromptu Superintendent Conference Day on Monday, 3/16 to allow for our professionals to organize and plan for the possibility of a long term-closure. On Monday our faculty and staff will be on campus. Respectfully, students, parents, and visitors are asked to not attend schools. At present, on Monday night we are holding our scheduled 7 pm Board of Education Meeting. It is live-streamed and can be accessed on our district website. We are also closing schools on Tuesday, 3/17 with very limited building access (essential staff only).
Currently, we are awaiting guidance and action from our State and local elected officials that may make our decision-making easier as we look forward. It is always hard to wait for information and clarity but we need to be cautious and careful that we act in accordance with a variety of requirements for school closures of any kind. While we don’t have clarity about how many days we will be closed after Tuesday, we fully anticipate a longer closing and ask that you prepare.
In my Friday communication, I began to signal that it is prudent that we prepare for long-term closures and we are doing just that. We are working with our foodservice providers to determine how to best meet the needs of our students who qualify for free and reduced lunch as well as any of our families who are food insecure. Tomorrow, our teachers will continue to prepare for a potential long-term closure with a primary focus on “continued learning” for our students. If closed for the long-term, we will launch “continual learning” when we are prepared.
Please recognize that the below guidance is not to be an alarmist, on the contrary, it is to provide similar information that other schools and organizations are sharing with the people they love and care about. Parents and adults should think about what “social distancing” means for families, children, and adolescents who are home from school. This is going to be an extraordinary challenge since our natural inclination is for our children and their friends to spend time away from school together. Families are going to have to do their best, understanding that this will not be easy.
We have some excellent guidance shared with from a Public Health Doctor in Boston:
- No playdates, parties, sleepovers, or families visiting each other's houses. This sounds extreme because it is. The idea is to create distance between family units and between individuals across those family units. The symptoms of the COVID-19 Coronavirus take 4-5 days to manifest themselves. Someone who comes over looking well can transmit the virus. Sharing food is particularly risky and it is definitely not recommended that people do so outside of their family.
- Take walks/runs outside, but maintain distance (ideally 6 feet between people outside your family). Try not to use public facilities like playground structures as the COVID-19 Coronavirus can live on plastic and metal for up to 3 days, and these structures aren't getting regularly cleaned. Try not to have physical contact with people outside of your family. Going outside will be important during these strange times, and the weather is improving. Go outside every day if you can but stay physically away from others. Try not to have kids play with each other (even outside) if that means direct physical contact.
- If you are sick, definitely stay home and contact a medical professional. If you are sick, you should try to isolate yourself from the rest of your family within your house as best as you can. If you have questions about whether you qualify or should get a COVID-19 Coronavirus test, you can call your primary care doctor or team. Don't just walk in to an ambulatory clinic - call first. Obviously, if it is an emergency call 911.
The Ardsley community continues to be a beacon of light when it comes to being there for one another in times of need. Clearly, all of this is difficult but everyone is trying their best and supporting each other in these efforts is critical.
We appreciate your patience and support as we continue to plan to await the information and guidance necessary to make further decisions related to the closure of our schools. Once in receipt of this guidance, I will provide an update on the specific plans for our learning community.
March 13, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
I want to start by reassuring the community that we have no known active cases of Covid-19 in our schools. We are also actively pursuing any leads and continue to work with local health authorities to help keep us safe.
As you know, I have been working closely with local Superintendents as well as representatives from state and county health departments to coordinate planning around school safety and possible closures. I will share an additional statement today.
Starting Monday, March 16, schools will be closed for all students for two days (Monday and Tuesday) and all after-school activities and outside organizations using our facilities are cancelled until at least Wednesday. These days will not impact vacations or State Aide. We will use the time Monday to create our potential remote learning plans. Our goal is to start remote instruction only when we are ready and we are instructed to do so. We will prepare to keep remote learning in place for as long as we are advised to be closed or that we feel is appropriate. We will be canceling all school activities and outside organizations using our facilities until at least Wednesday.
This afternoon, we asked teachers to encourage students to take home all personal items that they might need because access to the buildings may be limited if we are closed. If possible, we asked Elementary teachers to send home books and learning materials. Other materials can be sent to all students electronically as we further develop our remote learning plan. We are working on ways to get devices to students who do not have a computer at home. We plan to be ready to distribute them early next week, if necessary.
While this news will come as a relief to many, we also know this will raise many more uncertainties for students and for families now facing a possible prolonged disruption to their lives. Since the goal of school closures is “social distancing” every family will face an adjustment period as we all have to restrict our movement and social contacts over the coming weeks. If required, one goal of our remote learning platform will be to maintain contact with students and families.
I will continue to keep our community apprised of any further developments and new information as it becomes available. Thank you for your support.
March 12, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
This continues to be a challenging and unprecedented time for all of us. We will continue to navigate through this evolving health crisis, now named a pandemic. Everyone responds differently in this type of situation and it’s important to respect one another and support one another. As time passes and as anxieties fluctuate, I will remain transparent and even more explicit with our learning community.
Currently, the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) statute requires 990 hours (180 school days) in a given school year including four Superintendent Conference Days (Staff, no students). If we do not meet the State’s requirements, we would lose state funding and there could be other ramifications affecting our District.
We have just been informed that tomorrow, legislation is being introduced to guarantee that any school that chooses to close due to Coronavirus concerns will not lose funding under the 180-day law. Until this legislation is finalized and passed we still risk losing funding.
We are working closely with the Superintendents of the Rivertowns to determine a thoughtful course of action around short-term and long-term closings. We have been proactively planning all week for distance/remote learning, while waiting for additional guidelines from the NYSED. We are also mediating some of the challenges of providing effective learning and continuity of education.
We will be receiving more guidance and information in the next 24 to 48 hours and will provide a timely update to the community.
March 10, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
Our schools are open, and we are focused on keeping our students calm and delivering some level of normalcy during this challenging time. We are continuing to monitor this situation closely and consulting with experts who are available to address individual concerns and district level decisions. I would like to share some specifics regarding our cleaning, concerns and rumors, and upcoming events.
Hand Washing and Cleaning:
Joe Urbanowicz (Director of Facilities & Transportation) led a meeting with administrators and nurses from all buildings to clarify cleaning procedures as well as review recommendations around handwashing design to keep our buildings clean and our students safe:
Here is a list of the daily cleaning that are happening District-Wide:
High traffic hard surface daily cleaning:
- Door handles including exterior doors
- Drinking fountains
- Cafeteria tables
- Library tables
- Copy machines
In addition, we are cleaning all contracted buses daily and have the ability to disinfect rooms and entire buildings as needed.
Athletic Director, Mike Ramponi visited each spring team yesterday and asked that all athletes wash their hands before and after practice. I also requested that they take their personal equipment home after each practice to wipe down or spray.
At the Elementary level, handwashing (and/or the use of hand sanitizer) is happening in classrooms after each transition. Jennifer Darling has shared some guidelines for when hand washing should happen throughout the day.
At the secondary level, we encourage hand washing (or sanitizing) before and after Physical Education, recess, art, science labs, and music. All of these classes involve the use of shared equipment. We are adding sanitizing stations to gymnasiums, in other central locations in the corridors, and near building entrances. We have also secured the rental of six handwashing stations to be placed in cafeterias and can also be used at sporting or other events in the coming month(s).
Finally, we are discussing other strategies to minimizing the risk of exposure:
- Encourage leaving classroom doors open in locked position. This is a simple way to limit the touching of door handles repeatedly throughout any given school day. Note - In a lockdown, all doors will automatically close and lock.
- Physical Education staff will consider activities that require less equipment/fewer contact as well.
Reporting Concerns and Following Up on Rumors:
Members of the community are encouraged to bring forth to the District any concerns. When a potential concern is brought forward, we will investigate, answer questions and direct people to the NY State Department of Health Hotline (888-364-3065) or to the Westchester County COVID-19 Hotline (211). We have had some false alarms that we were able to fact check. We will continue to work through each incident on a case by case basis and reassure people after investigating. Please continue to raise concerns about your health or the health of immediate family members with your building principal, school nurse, or with Dr. Wilson or myself directly.
We are continuing our efforts and are aware of how others are responding to the situation. At present we are making adjustments to allow for us to maintain our schooling and activities. If circumstances change we will let you know immediately. Until then, thank you for your patience, understanding, partnership, and support.
March 9, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
This morning, Legislator Geroge Latimer held a conference call with all Westchester Superintendents. The time spent at the meeting was worthwhile, and we received some additional guidance. There was reassurance that we are acting in an appropriate manner. I also now have private phone numbers of people who I can contact directly if there is a specific health concern in Ardsley, or a situation in which additional guidance is needed. The Superintendent group raised questions and concerns that were noted and were passed onto the New York Department of Health (NYS DoH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Mr. Latimer clarified that the NYS DoH is controlling the testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Westchester Department of Health assists with communicating with people who have tested positive and/or those in direct contact with a person with coronavirus. Moving forward, we will be having daily Superintendent meetings to gain the latest updates from Westchester County. We can also ask questions in advance of meetings and submit them for answers during the call.
Late in the day a guidance document was issued from NYS DoH and NYSED. We have already instituted many of the recommended practices. The document also provides guidance if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our district or a need to close for an extended period of time.
When a student or staff member attended school prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case, NYS DoH requires an initial 24-hours closure, in order to begin an investigation to determine the contacts that an individual may have had within the school environment. That investigation will inform the plan determined by the local department of health as to any further required closure, or other necessary precautions to take for specific classrooms, or for specific individuals. Such plan must recommend actions for future positive COVID -19 cases as well.
Furthermore it was shared that:
At this time, most people in the United States have little immediate risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. However, some people are worried about the disease. Fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma. Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger towards ordinary people instead of the disease that is causing the problem. We can fight stigma and help not hurt others by providing social support.
While we understand that there is potentially heightened anxiety or concern, we are also concerned that communicating misinformation increases anxiety. We are diligently working to maintain a safe and healthy environment for everyone. NYS DoH will contact me when there is a positive case of COVID-19 associated with the Ardsley School District. If a member of our learning community has tested positive for the COVID-19, they may reach out to me directly as well. When either occurs I will seek additional guidance and act accordingly. Let me take this opportunity to also note that there are misconceptions that if someone is quarantined they are sick. That is not accurate. Some businesses and organizations, in an abundance of caution, are asking employees to self-quarantine or to work remotely. As stated yesterday, when there is a question or specific concern, please respectfully and confidentially bring it to the attention of your building administrator, school nurse, or Dr. Wilson and we’ll look into it on a case by case basis.
I am hopeful to gain additional information during tomorrow’s daily meeting and will stay vigilant and work collaboratively in the best interest of the Ardsley School District and each and everyone of us.
March 8, 2020 Update from Dr. Ryan Schoenfeld
Dear Learning Community,
In light of the Scarsdale School District closing until 3/19/20, I am further updating you tonight. A confirmed case of Coronavirus COVID-19 prompted guidance by the Westchester Department of Health and their subsequent closing. In Ardsley, we continue to be vigilant and are seeking the most updated information available. I, and Superintendents in Westchester County will be meeting with Legislator George Latimer and health care experts tomorrow morning at 8:30 am. Furthermore, Governor Cuomo’s office will be providing additional guidance for school districts tomorrow. I will communicate with you regularly. You can find past and future updates on the Ardsley School District’s homepage by clicking on a Coronavirus Updates link.
Monday, 3/9/20 will be a regularly scheduled day with all activities and events. As previously stated, if you or a loved one is ill please stay home and call your health care provider. If you have questions or concerns please contact your building principal, school nurse, or Dr. Wilson.
I ask that you join us as we are CALM and vigilant in combating this coronavirus.
C - Cleanliness is an area that we will continue to focus on. Healthy habits of students, staff, and visitors are imperative. We will be encouraging our faculty and staff to set time aside to allow for washing of hands throughout the day. We will be increasing sanitizing of commonly touched areas.
A - Academics and Activities are important and currently being supported. If there is new guidance or a need to reschedule, cancel, or re-design events we will act accordingly.
L - Learning the latest information and actively seeking the most accurate guidance is imperative so we can respond accordingly. We also ask that you contact building principals and/or Dr. Wilson or myself if you have questions or concerns related to the Coronavirus and yourself or your immediate family. In these situations, we are working with your concerns case-by-case and seeking advice from the Department of Health whenever necessary.
M - Measured approaches to an evolving health concern are being taken. We have been highly focused on assuring safe and supportive schools. We are increasing cleaning and disinfecting while also assuring that we have products to conduct a deep clean if necessary. I am also prepared to make tough decisions if/when necessary.
This is a challenging time for the world and our learning community. Positive thoughts to you and your family as we work through this together.
March 4, 2020 District Update
We continue to follow the guidelines for schools as set out by the CDC who have general instructions for schools during an infectious disease outbreak. We are also in contact with local health authorities and plan to comply with any new directives when or if they are made. I attended a special regional school district superintendent meeting today that further informed me and also re-enforced that we are responding appropriately. The following is a CDC link for the most updated information.
We are aware that our neighboring school district, Hastings, has closed schools over the next two days in order to sanitize due to concerns related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). We have received communication from our school district physician who has been in direct contact with the Westchester County Department of Health and we have been assured that there is absolutely no reason why we would need to close schools in Ardsley due to the situation in a neighboring district.
We plan to keep the schools open and have not made any adjustments to schedules or activities.
Families are advised to continue to take measures to limit the spread of infections, just as they do during any cold or flu season. On Monday, March 2nd, “healthy habits” were reviewed at all three of our monthly faculty meetings in an effort to reinforce and encourage healthy practices. There are alcohol-based antibacterial stations in all cafeterias and other locations throughout the district. We are seeking smaller dispensers. Students may bring in their own antibacterial product if desired and with parent approval. Buses are being disinfected and we’ve increased our sanitizing of common areas.
We will continue to encourage students, families, faculty, and staff to:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Stay informed through reliable media and information sources. Here is a link to WebMD that answers many basic questions.
Most of all, we ask that you and your children stay at home if you are sick. All absences for illness will continue to be honored. In addition, we encourage you to reach out to your local healthcare providers should you or your child have any symptoms. It is suggested that you contact your healthcare provider prior to going to their office. Your local health care provider will help you determine if any other testing or measures are warranted.
In addition to these basic measures, we want to ensure the community that we are preparing plans to address a variety of contingencies to ensure the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff and to provide instructional continuity. Should we have to enact any of these plans or additional plans based on our judgment or at the request of local health experts, we will inform the community immediately and continue to provide regular updates.
You may be wondering how our School District would handle a potential school closing for an extended duration, which is unlikely and an extreme measure. With our significant investment in technology, professional development, and blended learning across all of our schools, we are well-positioned to respond should distance learning become a necessary step. Furthermore, a plenary meeting will take place with teacher, administrators, and nurse representatives this Friday. The meeting’s primary focus is on establishing the structure and supports to administer distance learning if needed.
In the meantime, our local, state and national departments of health continue to provide guidance for school districts. Our actions have been, and will continue to be, in alignment with these recommendations. Please reassure your children that they are safe and that we are taking all necessary precautions. We will continue to update you as the situation unfolds and new information becomes available.
February 27, 2020 District Update
Please take some time to read the information below and stay informed. Doctors, researchers, and the CDC stated that one of the most important things that you can do to prepare yourself now, and in the event of a future outbreak, is ‘Don’t Panic’. In Ardsley we are continuing with typical influenza protocols, staying apprised of the changing landscape of this health concern, consulting with our health care professionals, and we are taking this very seriously. In an abundance of caution, we have already begun to discuss and plan for how we could educate our students if schools had to be closed.
Information About Coronavirus
A new coronavirus called 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was first found in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This virus had not been found in humans before. This coronavirus can lead to fever, cough and trouble breathing or shortness of breath. There are thousands of diagnosed cases in China and new cases being diagnosed in a number of countries including the United States.
What do we know?
Since this virus is very new, health authorities continue to carefully watch how this virus spreads. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working hard to learn as much as possible about this new virus, so that we can better understand how it spreads and causes illness. The CDC considers this virus to be a serious public health concern. Based on current information the CDC recommends avoiding travel to China. Updated travel information related to 2019‐nCoV can be found at:
How Does 2019 Novel (New) Coronavirus Spread?
Health experts believe the virus probably spreads from animals to humans and from person to person. It's not clear yet how easily the virus spreads from person-to-person.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) is not currently a concern for the general public and is not actively circulating among New Yorkers at this time. Therefore, there is no need to cancel school or social events, and there is no need for students or school staff to wear surgical masks at school.
There are currently no vaccines available to protect against this virus. The New York State Department of Health (DOH) recommends the following ways to minimize the spread of all respiratory viruses, including 2019-nCoV:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
- Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- CDC recommends that travelers avoid all travel to China.
Information to date suggests that 2019-nCoV causes mild-to-moderate illness and symptoms like the flu, including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Are visitors from China being screened?
Yes, as of February 2nd new screening protocols are conducted for individuals entering the US from China at designated airports.
PreK-12 schools may have students who attend school and have traveled to various areas in Asia, including China. Students should not be excluded from school or any school activities based on race, country of origin, or recent travel (or a family member's recent travel), including to any part of China. Schools may only exclude a student if a local health department informs the school that a student must comply with a quarantine order or the student is symptomatic of a communicable or infectious disease pursuant to Education Law §906.
Important Health Information for Those Who Have Recently Traveled to Wuhan, Hubei
Province, China and Experience Symptoms
If you recently traveled to Wuhan, China and feel sick with fever, cough or trouble breathing;
you develop symptoms within 14 days of traveling there, you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Call ahead and tell them about your travel and symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Stay home, except for seeking medical care.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Contact your local health department.
This is an emerging, rapidly changing situation. For questions please contact your local department of health or the NYS DOH Novel Coronavirus hotline at 1-888-364-3065.
We encourage you to keep up to date about 2019-nCoV, its treatment and prevention by visiting the following websites:
CDC's dedicated 2019-nCoV website at:
NYSDOH's dedicated 2019-nCoV website at:
NYSDOH directory of local health departments:
New York State Center for School Health website at: