The following message from District Superintendent, Suzanne Guntlow, was emailed to all Ichabod Crane families on Sunday, January 3. It contains information and reminders to review before students return from Holiday Recess for in-person learning on Monday, January 4.
All previous school reopening news and COVID-19 updates can be found on the district’s Reopening Information page here.
Dear Ichabod Crane Community,
First and foremost, Happy New Year! I hope the holidays gave you chances to celebrate in safe, meaningful ways with your family.
Throughout the break, we have been monitoring the pandemic and have been in regular contact with the Columbia County Health Department and surrounding schools in our BOCES regarding our ability to reopen schools safely. This includes a lengthy discussion on Sunday morning. District administrators have also been monitoring infection rates, new COVID-19 cases and tracking students, families and employees who are subject to quarantine throughout the school recess. Through these conversations, we have assessed the current situation and as a result have decided to proceed with our plans to provide in-person learning as regularly scheduled starting tomorrow, Monday, January 4.
While we understand the rationale for some Capital Region schools switching to remote instruction, we feel that keeping our students learning in an in-person environment is very important. As long as we can continue to provide in-person instruction in a safe manner with sufficient staff, we will make every effort to do so. Your contributions to these efforts are critically important. These efforts include all students and employees continuing the daily health screening, temperature checks, mask wearing, social distancing and health hygiene. I ask that you continue to be vigilant at home. Please carefully screen your children in the morning before sending them into school and always err on the side of caution. If they are showing even mild COVID-19 symptoms, please keep them home.
The New York State Department of Health and public health experts have said that schools are among the safest places one can be during this pandemic. Governor Cuomo in his regular briefings has also stated COVID-19 spread in schools remains very low. This is due to our strict health and safety guidelines. In the four months since Ichabod schools reopened, we have had a total of 22 positive cases. Of those 22, more than half were from a small number of families with multiple positives within the same household. Based on contact tracing information available to date, none of the reported positive cases occurred as a result of spread within our schools.
Given rising local infection rates, we anticipate starting rapid, non-invasive COVID-19 testing on consenting students and staff very soon. Based on extensive planning and preparation with DOH, I am confident we can successfully implement the required testing. More information will be shared once we have a definitive start date. Thank you to all the Ichabod families who consented to in-school testing by the January 1 deadline.
Please note the district will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust our learning model as needed. While we’ve made this determination at this point, it is important to understand that as cases increase, our district may be forced to shift to remote instruction. All families should be prepared for this change should it become necessary.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your school principal. In addition, if your child is currently exhibiting symptoms or has been in contact with a positive COVID case, please contact the school nurse as soon as possible.
Happy New Year once again. We are excited to welcome back our students tomorrow as we begin the second half of the 2020-2021 school year.
Superintendent of Schools