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Scarsdale Public Schools announced Sunday night, March 8, that all schools in the district will close March 9 through March 18 “in an abundance of caution” and “social distancing” after school officials learned a middle school faculty member tested positive for COVID-19.

The district plans to develop a system for teachers to provide e-learning starting Monday, March 16.

In an email sent to parents Sunday at 8 p.m., school officials stated: “The district is working with the Department of Health to discuss the full extent of precautions that we should be taking. We have spoken with the Westchester County Health Commissioner... and she recommended that we close our schools in an abundance of caution and take additional remedial measures,” which include contacting families and giving them guidance for further action, and thorough cleaning of all buildings.

The email also advised parents to contact their health care providers for answers to medical questions.

In addition, all school activities, meetings and events are cancelled through March 18.

A Greenacres resident and parent of a high schooler said, “My daughter and I were in the middle of dinner when my phone buzzed with news about the schools’ closure. We were utterly floored, and our food went untouched as we began frantically messaging with family and friends. Some are applauding the district’s decision; others are railing that it’s insensitive to the needs of working parents; still others are frantically casting about for ad hoc child care.

“I’m fortunate that as a work-from-home parent, child care isn’t an issue for us, but my heart goes out to those who are suddenly caught up short."

One Quaker Ridge mother of an eighth-grader said, “The confusion and the concern makes it a very challenging and stressful time for parents, the kids and the community. The middle schoolers have heard about coronavirus in the news, but now it’s happening at home and they’re scared and confused. Kids really are in a panic. They don’t know what to do.”

Several parents told the Inquirer they’re not sure how they will keep the children occupied until the plan for remote instruction takes shape.

“My instinct is to pack up and head to some beach motel for a few quiet days but, then I wonder, what happens if we end up quarantined out there for some reason, or forbidden to return to Scarsdale? It’s hard not to give in to dystopian musings,” one mom said.

Quaker Ridge resident Lynn Pollack, the parent of two SHS graduates, reacted to the news, saying, “Feels like it's really hitting close to home. We are likely canceling our trip to Florida on Wednesday, as we don't want to run the risk of infecting our elderly parents.”

Throughout the weekend, fear outpaced the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19, which stood at 82 in Westchester and 105 statewide by Sunday afternoon, with only eight hospitalized patients, one day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a state of emergency. That declaration gives the state more flexibility to purchase necessary materials and to hire people quickly to respond to the situation.

“If people understand the facts here they shouldn't be alarmed,” the governor said Sunday in a televised interview. “The fear and the anxiety is greatly outpacing the reality. And we're fighting … fear even more than the virus…”

On Friday, March 6, Scarsdale Youth Hockey informed its participating families that a member of the team — not a Scarsdale resident as SYHA takes players from many different communities — had tested positive for the virus.

After the school district confirmed that information through the department of health, it emailed the school community and established a dedicated page on the home page of its website, scarsdaleschools.org, where it posts updates for the entire community to access, in addition to emails being sent to the district email lists.

Friday afternoon, Scarsdale cancelled the Science Olympiad that was scheduled to take place at the middle school March 7. The event, held annually, involves as many as 1,000 participants from schools around the county.

Nearby in White Plains, Maple Medical Group closed Saturday for deep cleaning and reached out to patients after a number of doctors and nurses tested positive for the virus. A lawyer from New Rochelle who is a patient there and had visited the medical office has been hospitalized since March 2.

Click links for previous coverage of the outbreak.

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