March 12, 2020
Dear Roslyn Families,
I attended a briefing again yesterday for school superintendents with the Nassau County Commissioner of Health and the County Executive. The number one question on the agenda was the same one that's on all of our minds: should we close the schools? As you are no doubt aware, several area districts have closed this week for a few days after a confirmed case of COVID-19 appeared among students or staff members. The purpose of these short closings (which are mandated by New York State when there is a confirmed case in a community) is to allow health officials time to determine how widely the virus may have spread, and to enable school districts to clean and disinfect their buildings. Right now, Roslyn has not had a confirmed case.
Because the virus is new, there is no solid evidence yet about how effective school closings may be in slowing the spread of infection, and experts are divided. Epidemiologists have pointed out that school closings have been effective in dealing with flu epidemics, but others say that coronavirus is very different from influenza. The Health Commissioner, Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, told us yesterday that there have been no reports of serious COVID-19 illness in children anywhere in the world. That is not a reason to be complacent, but I hope it will reassure parents that children appear to be at very low risk from the virus.
Please know that we are grappling continuously with the question of whether and when we should close. As a parent, I share every parent's concern, and take everyone's input seriously. Some public officials are of the opinion that children may be safer in school, since the risk of infection for them appears very low, and if they are not in school they may be in other settings where they are less safe and can potentially spread infection to those who are more vulnerable. In addition, closing would deny some essential school services, such as nutrition, to many children who depend upon them, and would also cause a ripple effect of difficult challenges for working parents.
In the meantime, business is NOT as usual in the schools. While we are maintaining a normal in-school routine as much as possible, we have taken numerous steps to mitigate the situation:
All field trips are cancelled.
Non-essential programs, meetings and events, especially those involving large groups of people, are being postponed or cancelled.
School buildings will be closed to activities after 4:30pm daily, as of Friday, March 13. Principals will contact parents with information about particular programs and services affected by this change. We will use this additional time to clean and disinfect on a daily basis, which is more effective with fewer people in the buildings. Therefore, no visitors will be admitted after this time each day.
Physical education classes are being modified to avoid the use of equipment that is not easily disinfected.
No spectators will be permitted at indoor interscholastic athletic events. Some events will be cancelled. More information about competitions and practice schedules will be provided by the Athletic Department.
Adult education classes and events are suspended after Friday, March 13, until further notice.
Non-school organizations may not use indoor facilities after Friday, March 13, until further notice.
Extensive daily cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces continues in our schools and on our buses.
Although we believe that the school environment is safe for children at this time, I understand it is a parental choice whether to send your child to school. Be mindful that the district is not exempt from state attendance requirements. Nonetheless, we will provide the same level of support that you have come to expect for any child who is absent for a period of time. Reach out to your child's teacher, school counselor or building administrator with your questions or concerns.
Needless to say, this is a very difficult and unparalleled situation, and it could change at any time. My attention is focused on little else right now besides the health and safety of students and staff. I will continue to provide updates as necessary.