We hope you are enjoying a restful holiday break with your family. As we look ahead to the New Year, the health and safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority.
Our schools will be open, as scheduled, on Monday, January 3 for all students. However, we are putting additional health and safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID and keep our schools open for learning.
On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Hochul held a webinar with superintendents to discuss her desire to keep schools open across the state. She pledged millions of test kits to provide 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 arriving from break on Monday, there are many obstacles with this 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 Test to Stay, test on the first day back (for those who previously consented to testing), or as part of ongoing surveillance testing.
COVID Testing After Returning from Holiday Break
- At this time we have not yet received the test kits from our local BOCES. Additional information on home test kit distribution will be released via email and posted on our website once we receive the tests. We anticipate setting up distribution locations at each building early next week for families to pick up one at-home kit (two tests) per student.
- Anyone who tests positive on a take-home test should immediately report their results to the school nurse and begin isolating. Students testing positive using an at-home test kit are strongly encouraged to complete a lab-confirmed COVID test. If the lab test results are negative, please contact the school nurse to provide the lab-confirmed result so the student may return back to school. 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 there is symptom resolution. At this time, individuals cannot test out of quarantine or isolation. At this time we have not received any updated guidance from New York State shortening the quarantine period for students.
- Taking part in testing is voluntary. We strongly encourage that you utilize these home test kits for your children only. You may opt to screen your child upon receipt of the tests as a surveillance tool or hold them to utilize in the event that your child develops symptoms. 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” (where unvaccinated students who have been exposed are regularly tested in order to stay in school) in order to reduce the number of students and staff who would be excluded from school following a COVID exposure. At this time, our local health departments are reviewing and assessing the equity and feasibility of this Test to Stay strategy throughout our counties and have not adopted Test to Stay. Local school districts and the BOCES will continue to monitor local conditions in partnership with our local health departments.
- 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.
Superintendent of Schools