On Tuesday evening, the Governor’s Office released new health and safety guidance for school districts throughout New York State. This included an FAQ. After meetings with school superintendents in our BOCES, as well as with the County Department of Health, to discuss the latest guidance, a summary of how it will impact our students and staff is below.
- Those who test positive for COVID-19, or are showing symptoms of the virus, must isolate and be excluded from school for at least five days following the onset of symptoms.
- Individuals who are fever free for 24 hours and symptoms are improving may return to school when that period of time has concluded.
- Per New York State DOH guidelines, those individuals must wear a well-fitting mask in school and on buses for days 6 through 10.
IDENTIFICATION OF CLOSE CONTACTS
- Based on the assumption that most students will not be masked, the guidance has gone back to identifying students as a close contact if they are spaced within six feet of the positive individual.
- If the positive individual and the contact are both masked, then a distance of three feet will be used to identify close contacts.
- Exposed, or potentially exposed, persons will not need to be excluded from school, though the recommendation is to wear a mask for 10 days.
- It is recommended that exposed individuals test for COVID-19 twice within five days.
- Whole group identification will be used for grades K-5, meaning the entire class will be notified of a positive case in the classroom.
- Grades 6-12 will utilize individual identification as less time is spent in each classroom.
As noted earlier this week, masks are now optional. If students or staff members wish to continue to wear a mask, they may do so. Our school community has shown great resiliency over the past two years, and, as expected, after two days of being mask-optional our students and staff have been exceptional to one another.
We understand that all transitions can be stressful, and some students may experience anxiety as a result of this latest change. Please know that our school counselors are available for support at any time.
HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS
Many COVID-19 mitigation strategies will remain in place, including social distancing when possible and increased ventilation in classrooms. Students and staff are encouraged to practice healthy hygiene and should stay home when sick.
Testing of unvaccinated school staff will continue. These staff members may opt out of this testing by becoming fully vaccinated.
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES / ATHLETICS
- The new guidance applies to school-administered after-school and extracurricular activities, including athletics, in the same way it applies to instructional periods. Therefore, masks will no longer be required for these activities.
- The District will return to full capacity for evening events, including athletics, concerts, etc.
Separate from the new guidance, due to the declining community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, all confirmed positive cases reported within the Averill Park Central School District can be found here beginning today, dating back through February 2022. The District will communicate directly with families affected by confirmed COVID-19 cases, but will no longer email the entire district following each individual case.
The guidance continues to require that schools report all positive tests to the state COVID-19 Report Card. A significant change to the guidance, however, is that positive at-home tests are now required to be reported on the Report Card.