Take the Pledge...
While 2020 is most likely to go into the record books for being remembered by COVID-19, this was not the only major, global event of 2020. Last year also brought with it a rebirth and spotlight on social justice and equity like we have not seen in decades. Communities throughout the country, including Rome, spent a good portion of the year working on improving opportunities for all members of their community. 2020 brought with it some events that really cause us all to stop and think about the fate of the human race and just exactly what we need to do in order to be able to work together, regardless of background, to create a community where all people are valued as citizens. In the Rome City School District, we have been focused on improving equity, understanding, and awareness of all cultures for the past few years, as we work with our local NAACP. Recognizing that the work is never done, and there is a lot that school system to contribute to improving the issues of understanding and awareness in a community, we are committed to this initiative and to the ongoing work that the entire City of Rome has been doing for many decades to create a culture of inclusivity. Through the work of our Equity Task Force, the Rome City School District is proud to be the first school district in the Mohawk Valley who has joined the partnership program of the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. The Community Foundation is committed to increasing awareness throughout our region and have developed an Equity Pledge program for citizens to pledge to encourage diversity, challenge injustice, and help build opportunity for all. These are all things that most people do every day, regardless of a pledge or not, because it is the right thing to do. As we move into 2021, the Rome City School District and the Equity Task Force is asking our community to "Take the Pledge" and let's lead the way toward a better tomorrow by working together on issues of equity. To take the pledge, please visit https://www.mvequitypledge.org/ and take the pledge on behalf of our school community. There is a lot going on currently in our world with COVID, however, there is a lot of positive work being done in the world of equity, acceptance, and awareness. Let's continue to be leaders in this region as we work to ensure that all individuals are welcomed in our Rome community.
Return to Hybrid Learning
Earlier this week, the Rome City School District announced that our new anticipated date for a return to hybrid learning is Monday, January 25, 2021. This date is contingent on the availability of staff to safely and appropriately operate a school. We still continue to see a large number of staff members either quarantined due to exposure or who have unfortunately fallen ill. It is expected that our staff availability should improve, but there are no guarantees as the rules from the NYS Department of Health and/or Governor's office can change in a moments notice. As always, we will continue to provide updates and information as it becomes available.
Currently, bowling and swimming are the only two winter sports that have been approved to operate by NYSPHAA and Section III. However, Section III also announced last week that schools that are completely remote are not eligible to participate in athletics until a time that some students are back in session. This is a sudden change from the process that was followed for fall sports and we are working to learn more about why the change. It is looking more unlikely that other winter sports will be played this winter, however, always stay tuned for updates and information.
Yellow Zone Requirements
As you know, the Rome City School District is currently located within one of New York State's Yellow Zone COVID regions. As mentioned, the largest implication for our district in this zone is the requirements to test 20% of our in-person students and staff in all schools, except Stoke Elementary. Stokes is not in the yellow zone and therefore not required to test. We will however, be testing at Stokes for those individuals desiring to be tested. Schools have 2 weeks from the date of students returning to hybrid learning to conduct the testing. If our local positivity rates are below the regional averages, then the school will not need to test a second time in order to remain open. All testing will be completed on a volunteer basis and no student or staff member will be required to test without parent permission or consent. This week the district will be releasing our testing protocol procedures document, as well as, canvassing the students and staff for volunteers to conduct the test.