Dear Members of the Scarsdale Schools Community:
Today’s school re-opening went well, with approximately 90 percent of students and almost every faculty and staff member returning for a productive day of learning. The predictably unpredictable notwithstanding, both adults and younger people have adapted and improvised brilliantly and are carrying on. I visited each school this morning and was impressed by the positive energy and by how eagerly so many people are going the extra mile for the common good.
Thanks also to all our families for your understanding and for enabling your children to get to school in the absence of school bus transportation. We appreciate your patience and your positive attitude in conditions that are less than ideal.
The disappointing news of the day was that we were unable to open Edgewood and the Middle School because Con Edison proved unable to provide power to either building. The Middle School did have electrical power as of 12:45 today. Edgewood recovered power later this afternoon.
Children and teachers have vacated six rooms at Heathcote School pending repair of a downed wire and tree removal. The situation is contained and poses no danger. Also, traffic access is limited to the front drive on Palmer Road, which complicates dropoff and pickup. Con Edison must address the problem of the downed wire before the tree can be removed. The Business Office is working with the utility and tree service with the goal of resolving these matters before tomorrow.
Some classrooms at Quaker Ridge were without heat today, but conditions in the building were sustainable. The problem appears to originate in the computerized control system. Buildings and Grounds staff are troubleshooting and doing their best to see that the situation is remedied promptly.
All the schools and the District Office continue to lack internet, e-mail or telephone service. Our servers are intact and working, but the fiber-optic cables that serve the schools (as well as private homes in Scarsdale) are broken, and until they’re fixed, our electronic communications will continue to be extremely limited. Again, principals can call out on a single telephone line in an emergency, but it’s impossible to make multiple calls out or to call in.
Tuesday, November 6
- The Edgewood School and the Middle School will re-open for both teachers and students at the regular time.
- Bus transportation will resume tomorrow on the regular schedule, with one exception. Buses will leave the Heathcote School at 3:30. Buses may not be able to access every regular stop and they may run 10-15 minutes late, depending on the route. If conditions suggest a bus is unlikely to reach a child’s regular stop; if a bus is more than 15 minutes late, or if delayed departure from Heathcote creates problems, a parent should plan to transport the child by alternative means.
- The High School and the Quaker Ridge Schools will serve lunch from the regular menu. The Middle School will offer a limited lunch menu. The Middle School menu will include items such as tuna sandwiches, chicken noodle soup and pasta. Quaker Ridge parents should check the school website for menu updates this week.
- Elementary schools will be on an E Day schedule. The Middle School will be on an A Day Schedule
- At Edgewood, Quaker Ridge and the Middle School, in particular, students should dress warmly in case the heating systems can’t fully warm the buildings.
- Before-school programs at the elementary level (music lessons, e.g.) and at the Middle School will be canceled for the rest of the week. Children should be dropped off at their schools just prior to the regular opening of school.
- After-school clubs and activities at the elementary level will be cancelled tomorrow to accommodate election day traffic and voting. Activities may resume on Wednesday if school communications systems are stabilized. High School activities will proceed as usual. No after-school activities are scheduled at the Middle School.
- Adult School classes and Recreation Department activities at the High School will resume.
- Because the Middle School, Greenacres, Edgewood, and Fox Meadow all lost power, we have to assume that any student medications refrigerated there are no longer viable. Parents in those schools whose children need medication should send a new supply to the school nurse as soon as practicable.
Mid and Longer Term Considerations
We haven’t yet been able to give serious consideration to a number of mid- and longer-term questions. In the words of a friend, just dealing with the immediate situation and related logistics has pretty much taken up all our bandwidth. Since we’ve been thrown back to a pre-internet, pre- e-Mail, and in many cases, pre-telephone, era we’ve found that the simplest attempts to communicate and coordinate have posed tremendous challenges and are immensely time-consuming.
District leaders, principals and faculties are in the process of resolving relatively immediate questions about rescheduling quarterly exams, report card schedules and similar matters. As our overall situation stabilizes, we’ll be able to think more planfully about longer term matters such as the school year and school day requirements.
We don’t need to act precipitously. We can’t legally hold class on Veteran’s Day or on Saturdays, two ideas that recently surfaced. At this point, furthermore, we’ve still got flexibility to meet state requirements if we adhere to our original calendar and use the January conference day and our planned backup days in March, if necessary. Also, as I suggested yesterday, the state legislature may decide to waive or alter requirements, so it’d be premature to make decisions right now, in any event.
We’ll get back to you with more information on this matter within the next few weeks.
Tomorrow is election day, and school will be in session. This means that parking is likely to be a problem. We’re communicating with the police about trying to assure spaces are available for voters and are trying to think whether we can reduce the footprint of faculty and staff parking in order to improve access to the polls. Please be patient.
We’re not out of the woods, but we are making progress.
Two thoughts about the next days.
One. We’re currently anticipating another storm on Wednesday. We don’t know how severe it’ll be or how it will affect a system that’s already compromised. We should prepare ourselves for the possibility that we’ll have to take a step backward. If that happens, we can’t be discouraged. We’ll just have to pick up the pieces, redouble our efforts and go forward.
Two. In the first days after a major calamity, there’s often an outpouring of good will and generosity. But inconvenience and hardship can erode that positive spirit quickly as time passes. All the more important, then, for all of us to continue be the patient, caring, decent people we hope to be at our best.
With much appreciation and admiration for your efforts so far and in expectation that even better days will follow.
Don’t forget to vote.
Michael V. McGill