December 20, 2021 

Dear Hastings Families & Staff, 

I will be writing this week with daily updates on our status with COVID-19. The principals and other lead administrators are meeting with me each morning to assess the situation with the school district and across the region. We consider data on COVID-19 in the Hastings schools, as well as plans in regional districts and guidance from the NYSDOH and WCDOH. 

Today’s Bottom Line 

We continue our intention to remain with in-person schooling until the Holiday Recess. We will be in-person tomorrow (Tuesday) and all indications are that we will continue with in-person schooling on Wednesday and Thursday. We will confirm our status for Wednesday and Thursday by early afternoon the day ahead. 

We have had an increase in the number of confirmed positive cases since Thursday at the Middle School (11) and Hillside (four). While the increase is concerning, we must remember that this count indicates that over 98 percent of our students are not COVID-19 positive. Moreover, because of the high rate of vaccinations, our quarantine numbers remain relatively low. Lastly, Test-to-Stay (TTS) provides those students who are required to quarantine, and are asymptomatic, the opportunity to be in school for academic classes (albeit not extracurriculars). Thus, with the vast majority of students able to attend school, it is imperative we continue to provide in-person schooling. 

Based on a county-wide meeting this morning with the WCDOH and superintendents, I can assure you that nearly all Westchester County school districts are continuing this week with in-person schooling. Only those schools that have had staffing shortages due to COVID-19 (which is a possibility for any of us), have shifted to a temporary remote mode. We will keep monitoring the status of area districts.

Immediate Procedural Adjustments 

We are making several adjustments in procedures until the Holiday Break. Each action is intended to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and secure in-person schooling. 

1. Broadening Eligibility for Live Streaming and TTS – Effective immediately, live streaming will be allowed for any student, vaccinated or unvaccinated, with a family

member (parent or sibling) who has a documented positive case of COVID-19. The same opportunity will be provided for participation in TTS, but only for asymptomatic individuals. The family must provide documentation of the positive COVID-19 test to the relevant school nurse. 

2. Middle School Modified Sports Paused – We will pause all Modified Sports until after the Holiday Break. Several of the middle school positive cases link back to one or more Modified Sports teams. We intend to restart the teams after the Holiday Break. 

3. No Visiting Spectators for Athletics – We will not allow spectators from our opposition teams to attend contests until after the Holiday Break. Other districts have instituted similar limitations, and our opponents for this week support this step. Their fans will be able to watch contests via streaming. Our athletes still will be able to have spectators for home events, based on the previously instituted system of “four passes per athlete per contest.” 

4. Locker Rooms Closed – For both physical education and athletics, locker rooms have been closed until after the Holiday Break. This will limit a possible source of COVID-19 spread. 

5. Community Programs Paused – We are pausing all use of district facilities by community programs (arts, music and athletics) until after the Holiday Break. A specific notice will be sent to each group from a district contact. After-school programming for child care will continue. 

6. Communications about Positive Cases – Individual families will be contacted, as always, by school officials if they have a student deemed a close contact to a confirmed positive case. Staff in each school will continue to receive an internal notification of exposures (protecting the privacy of all individuals). Going forward, we will send a summative district-wide statement every 24 hours listing the number of confirmed positives and quarantines for each school in the preceding day. This single communication will provide the necessary information, but reduce the volume of emails and letters now being sent. 

We ask that everyone continue the close adherence to the mitigating measures that help keep us healthy: 

Stay home if you are not feeling well 

Mask up at all times (especially indoors) 

Wash and sanitize your hands frequently 

Vaccinations are strongly recommended 

Please be in touch with your principal if you have any questions. We will send another update early afternoon on Tuesday, December 21st. 

Be well.

William S. McKersie, Ph.D. 

Superintendent of Schools