The following message from District Superintendent, Suzanne Guntlow, was emailed to all Ichabod Crane families on Wednesday, March 31. It contains information and reminders to review before Spring Recess (April 2-12)
All previous school reopening news and COVID-19 updates can be found on the district’s Reopening Information page here.
Spring Recess (April 2-12) starts this Friday and it is hard to believe that we are entering the final stretch of another school year. After the uncertainty of last spring, we were fortunate to reopen our schools in September using extensive safety protocols. With your support and the dedication of our staff, those protocols have served us well. Like every district, there have been COVID cases in our schools but thanks to the vigilance of staff and school families we have swiftly addressed them. Before students and staff begin their much-deserved break this Friday, I want to briefly check-in with you on two items.
Positive Case Notification & NY Travel Update
Yesterday (March 30) we were informed that a transportation employee on one of the district’s small school busses had tested positive for COVID-19. Due to the bus size, this thankfully meant only a small number of students were placed under mandatory quarantine. At this time, we have identified and contacted all families whose students came in close contact with the positive case.
This case serves as an important COVID safety reminder, as we know school families have vacations planned for the Spring Recess. Effective tomorrow (April 1), domestic travelers will no longer need to quarantine when returning to New York State, regardless of vaccination status. Governor Cuomo announced this earlier in the month and Columbia County DOH confirmed to us today it would be in effect starting April 1. If planning to travel over the break, please take all COVID safety precautions to help us minimize disruptions to our instruction in the final stretch of the year. Even though New York residents no longer need to quarantine when returning from another state, please remember the following:
- All travelers are still required to fill out the Traveler Health Form upon returning to NY. This can be found here. Travelers who do not can be subject to large fines from the state.
- Quarantine protocols remain in place if returning to NY from another country.
- Continue to monitor for symptoms before sending your child to school.
- If your student or anyone in your household is experiencing symptoms upon returning from travel, do not send your student to school.
- The CDC still does not recommend travel unless it is essential.
Revised CDC K-12 Guidance & What It Means in NYS
Earlier this month The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released revised guidance for K-12 schools. One of the key changes was reducing the physical distance between students in classrooms from 6 feet to 3 feet. While this is a promising development, as with all CDC recommendations it must be approved by the New York State Department of Health before
Ichabod Crane can make any new decisions using this guidance. At this time, the state has not adopted these new CDC guidelines and therefore at this time we are unable to change current protocols.
As we await their decision, Ichabod Crane and neighboring school districts are being proactive by directly advocating to the state. I and every other superintendent from the Questar III BOCES region have signed our names to a letter sent to Dr. Howard Zucker – the NYS DOH Commissioner – on March 24. Initial guidance for reopening NYS K-12 schools was released in July 2020 and has remained virtually unchanged since. We are asking DOH to revisit their K-12 school guidance taking into consideration the latest CDC recommendations and evidence of low in-school COVID spread this year. If state guidance were revised with these points in mind, our BOCES region and all NYS districts would have more uniform flexibility to have students back in school more frequently and better plan for next year. Maximizing in-person learning while keeping our school community safe continues to be a top priority and we will continue to advocate for clear, consistent guidance based on science and the evidence gathered on transmission to date.
Thank you as always for your patience and teamwork. I hope you have a safe, relaxing break and I look forward to finishing out the school year strong with all of you.
Superintendent of Schools