Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope your holiday recess has been restful. As we head into the New Year, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our highest priorities.
Our schools will be open, as scheduled, on Monday, January 3rd for all students. We ask that you please do NOT send your child(ren) back to school if they are experiencing any symptoms of illness. If you have questions or need to report a COVID-19 related health issue, please contact your child’s principal or school nurse. We are also putting additional health and safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and keep our schools open for in-person learning. This includes distributing at-home test kits to families.
On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Hochul held a webinar with superintendents where she discussed her desire to keep schools open across the state. She pledged to provide millions of COVID-19 test kits to school districts through their local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).
While the Governor’s goal was for families to administer these tests at home prior to their children returning to school on Monday, there are many obstacles given the timing of the holiday break. In a memo to school districts yesterday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett indicated that districts could use the kits to implement testing on the first day back (for those who previously consented to testing), as part of ongoing screening testing, or to implement the Test to Stay strategy.
COVID Testing After Returning from Holiday Break
- The District plans to distribute free at-home test kits to families during the first week of January. We will share the distribution schedule with you as soon as it is finalized.
- Anyone who tests positive on a take-home test should immediately report their results to the school and begin isolating. Students testing positive using an at-home test kit must complete a lab-confirmed COVID test as well. Please visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you to find a nearby testing site.
- Students who test positive must isolate for 10 days and can return to school on Day 11 if they no longer have symptoms. At this time, individuals cannot “test out” of quarantine or isolation.
- Participating in testing is voluntary. We strongly encourage you to utilize these home test kits for your child(ren) when they are available. If you or others in your household need to be tested, please visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you to find a nearby testing site.
Test to Stay Update
- Last week, the state updated guidance on “Test to Stay” to reduce the number of students and staff who would be excluded from school following a COVID exposure. At this time, our local health department is reviewing and assessing the equity and feasibility of this strategy in our county. We will continue to monitor local health conditions in partnership with Questar III BOCES and our county health department.
- The New York State Department of Health has not yet adopted the CDC updates on shortening quarantine and isolation for the general population. The state has only adopted this reduction for essential workers. As a result, the quarantine period remains at 10 days. If there are any changes, we will communicate them as soon as possible.
We are seeing the impact of the omicron variant throughout the region and state. We ask for your continued cooperation in following our established COVID protocols, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and staying home when sick. We will continue to keep you updated with any changes to conditions or protocols. Thank you for your continued partnership and patience.
Dr. Maria Lagana Suttmeier, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools