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Welcome to the neighborhood: A familiar home, amid so much change

Early this spring Tiffany and Dave Rolfe made the decision that several other parents have faced, choosing Shelter Island as the safest place for their family during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Both employed in advertising and marketing, their work went remote in March, so they moved their family here from New York City.

After the summer, knowing their workplaces would stay closed through January, they found the uncertainty of the school district in the city too difficult. They made the decision to enroll their daughter, Myla, in second grade at the Shelter Island School and their son Hammy in the Pre-K-4 class.

In the beginning, the children were a little nervous, Ms. Rolfe said, but she praised the school for welcoming them and setting up a meeting the day before school started to meet new friends, their families and their new teacher.

Of course, all of this had to take place while everyone was observing the restrictions to keep safe, including wearing masks. “It’s amazing how resilient the kids are,” Ms. Rolfe said, as they adapted quickly to wearing masks throughout the school day.

There were a couple of familiar aspects that helped the children adjust, she added. “We’ve been coming to the school playground for years,” she said, And the school parking lot was where Myla learned to ride her bike last summer.

There was another family from the city who also opted to stay on the Island and enroll in the school, including one of Myla’s classmates from the city school who is now in her class here. “It helped to have that family here,” Ms. Rolfe said. “We needed each other for support.”

There were other adjustments to make along the way. Dave Rolfe had to get a new job as a result of the COVID shutdown, but is now a head of production at Facebook. Ms. Rolfe was promoted to a global role at her company, R-GA.

“Ordinarily, this new job would require a lot of travel, but instead, we’re both working from our guestroom. We know we’re lucky to have jobs we can do virtually. Of course,” she laughed, “someday we’ll probably have bad wrist issues from all the time on our computers.”

The Rolfes bought their home on Ram Island a few years ago after coming here for eight years. They’ve enjoyed developing deeper friendships with people they knew on the Island and making new friends.

Still getting used to differences between their life on the Island and in the city, the Rolfes had their children playing on the beach one late afternoon recently, “under a cotton-candy sky,” and just days later were frolicking in the heavy snow that fell last week.

The Rolfes plan to celebrate the holidays here with their “pod” of neighbors, with whom they’ve practiced social distancing, and connect online with family.

Coming from Seattle originally, Ms. Rolfe said they will continue their traditions, including crab dinner for Christmas Eve. “This is the first time we’re here for Christmas,” Ms. Rolfe said. “We took the children to see Santa at the History Center.”

Looking back on the decision to relocate to the Island, Ms. Rolfe said, “This has been such a great choice for us.”