This message was emailed to all families on Friday, August 6, 2021
Last week, we communicated our expectation that guidance for the reopening of school would soon be released by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). However, Wednesday evening, the Governor’s office announced that NYSDOH would, in fact, not be releasing reopening guidance due to the termination of the state of emergency on June 24. This development is both unexpected and disappointing.
Prior to this announcement, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) issued a short memo suggesting that until guidance was released, the recently updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should be reviewed and considered by districts. State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker also released a statement yesterday indicating school districts should develop plans to open in-person in the fall as safely as possible following guidance from the CDC and local health departments.
As a result of these changes, the District Reopening Task Force along with the full administrative team and the health and safety sub-committee will reconvene early next week to review the current CDC recommendations and discuss updates to our current reopening plan in key areas such as masking, physical distancing and transportation. In addition, area superintendents have been engaged in ongoing meetings with the Questar Health and Safety team in an effort to develop consistency within the region.
The goal of the Task Force is to develop a reopening plan that enables us to return 100% of our students to in-person, full-time learning while adhering to the CDC recommendations to the extent possible to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff. Next week, we also expect the release of a guidance document for athletics for the upcoming school year, which is being developed regionally between Questar III BOCES, Capital Region BOCES and Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) BOCES.
As previously stated, our desire is to return all students to in-person learning, but we also understand that alternate plans may be necessary on a case by case basis for some students who require remote learning due to significant medical concerns. If your child is medically compromised with documentation from a healthcare provider, please fill out this short survey no later than August 11.
All parents and community members are invited to attend the next Board of Education meeting where we will discuss the district’s draft Reopening Plan along with the Task Force recommendations in more depth. This meeting has been moved up to August 17. As always, we will continue working with the Columbia County Department of Health to ensure we are taking all necessary precautions to keep our students and staff healthy and safe.