The White Plains Examiner

White Plains Schools Plan to Reopen Monday after ‘Firebreak’

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The White Plains School District is planning to return to in-person instruction Dec. 14 following a switch to all remote learning this week that was triggered by a large increase in COVID-19 cases among staff and students.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Ricca notified parents and staff Friday afternoon that the district would be making the change “to allow us time to observe the landscape with regard to COVID-19 positivity and (hopefully) allow for the post ‘Thanksgiving Spike’ to move past us.”

Ricca told The Examiner that George Washington Elementary School, White Plains High School and White Plains Middle School/Highlands were hit the hardest by the recent outbreak.

“I did it because of the number of incidences and positive cases of COVID-19 that we had erupting in our schools (last) Thursday and particularly Friday that were negatively impacting our children and our faculty and staff members with regard to quarantining and disruptions in our schools,” Ricca explained during a Facebook Live community update Monday afternoon.

While acknowledging the frustration and disruption created by what he called a “firebreak,” Ricca stressed it was not the beginning of an extended holiday pause.

“Going remote is not something we want to be doing. I don’t do it lightly,” Ricca said. “My hope is, and I could be wrong, is by providing this firebreak that we’ll see the cases of COVID-19 coming into our buildings begin to abate after this week, and I would love to say go away…and perhaps be at the levels before Thanksgiving.”

Ricca said the goal is to return next Monday to the hybrid approach the district has been following, which includes four days of learning in the classroom and remote instruction on Wednesdays.

“At the end of the day, we all want to be in school, we all want to be with our kids and we will continue to push forward to be able to do that in the safest and healthiest manner possible,” he said. “We’re not moving backwards, we’re moving forward.”

A few weeks ago, a trio of unions representing teachers, administrators and civil servants urged Ricca and the Board of Education to switch the district from hybrid to all remote instruction, fearful of the impact Thanksgiving would have on rising COVID-19 cases.

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