Superintendent’s Message 1.1.2022


Superintendent’s Message 1.1.2022

January 1, 2022

Dear Warwick Valley School Community,

New Year’s greetings! I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday. 

On January 3, 2022, the Warwick Valley CSD will open its doors to students. If you are a parent, you may refer to the protocols below in the event your child is COVID-19 positive or quarantined from exposure. If you are a staff member, please read the changes to quarantine and isolation periods below, as per the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). We respectfully request that you read this email in its entirety.

First and foremost, it is our strong belief that our students should continue attending school regularly. We’ve updated our mitigation efforts to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread, and we’ll continue to do so as necessary. Our objective is to keep our schools safely open.

However, two scenarios could impact this decision in the future: 

  1. Public health authorities or the Governor’s closing of schools; or 
  2. If the District is unable to staff its classrooms, school buses, and/or schools securely and effectively due to required quarantines. 

More information about what to expect if either of these unlikely circumstances occurs is provided below.

We ask that students who have traveled during the holiday or are sick get tested before returning to class on Monday. Students who are ill are not permitted to attend school.

1._Shortened Isolation Period for Critical Workforce (This does not apply to students.

(According to the NYSDOH, the isolation period for all students diagnosed with COVID-19 is still 10 days).

The NYSDOH provided direction on December 24th based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) updated guidance on isolating fully vaccinated individuals who operate in vital services with staffing shortages. This category includes school staff.  

Please be aware that, from now on, we will enable faculty and staff to return to work after five days of isolation if they meet the requirements outlined below. Isolation (Day Zero) begins at the onset of symptoms or the date of the test (if asymptomatic).

  1. If the person is fully vaccinated; 
  2. If the person is asymptomatic or has just mild symptoms, they must:
    • Have not had a fever in at least 72 hours (no fever-reducing medication).
    • Symptoms are improving.
    • Not having a runny nose.
    • Have no more than a minimal non-productive cough.
    • In addition, for the balance of the isolation period, the person must correctly wear a well-fitted mask consistently. Cloth masks are permitted; however, staff must use them along with a disposable mask. Please be aware that more disposable masks are available at each building.

Staff should contact their supervisor, principal, or Coordinator of Health & Attendance Heather Roecker with any questions.

2. Test-to-Stay

Just prior to the December break, the NYSDOH also permitted school districts to implement a “test to stay” (TTS) program, allowing unvaccinated close contacts of COVID-19 positive individuals to continue to attend school if they receive a negative antigen test the morning prior to attending. According to the CDC, “Test to Stay (TTS) is a practice consisting of contact tracing and serial testing (testing that is sequentially repeated) to allow close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to continue in-person learning during their quarantine period.”  Yesterday, December 31, 2021, the Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH) approved this strategy. According to a statement released by the local health department yesterday, all school districts must submit a documented TTS policy to the OCDOH to participate, along with the requisite certification. It’s important to remember that the guidelines state that exposure must occur in a school setting to participate in TTS. As we implement this new approach, you should expect a comprehensive communication next week from the District outlining our TTS plan.

3. Test-Out-of-Quarantine

The CDC released a statement on 12/27/2021 announcing an updated and shortened recommended isolation and quarantine period for the general population. As of today, the corresponding guidance from the CDC has not yet been released. We expect more information from the OCDOH on this, and we will follow any procedures they establish if they decide to use a test-out-of-quarantine procedure.

4. New York State Delivery of Rapid Tests to Schools

Immediately prior to the Winter Recess, Warwick Valley CSD received a shipment of at-home rapid tests for approximately 20% of our students. Yesterday, we received an additional 3,600 tests. We will soon announce a plan to distribute these tests. 

5. COVID-19 Testing of Symptomatic Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Persons

People with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, can engage in school activities after a negative NAAT or antigen test result. Individuals with symptoms must also be able to attend school, have no rhinorrhea (runny nose) or cough severe enough to make mask use difficult or unhygienic, and have not had a temperature for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

The following conditions remain in effect: Individuals with no new symptoms or worsening due to pre-existing medical issues (e.g., migraines, allergies) do not need to be excluded from school or tested. If a non-COVID-19 acute illness is confirmed (e.g., laboratory-confirmed influenza or strep-throat) and COVID-19 is not suspected, a student or staff member may provide a note signed by the healthcare provider explaining the alternate diagnosis and participate in school without COVID-19 testing.

6. Ongoing Testing of Staff

On a weekly basis, the District will test all unvaccinated employees and any other employees who request to be tested.

7. Existing and Anticipated Risk Reduction Efforts

The District continues to practice risk mitigation techniques such as proper masks, handwashing, and respiratory etiquette. Within classrooms, the District will continue to provide hand sanitizer and opportunities for handwashing. Teachers will continue to stress maintaining good respiratory hygiene and cleanliness. The NYSDOH requires universal masking of teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. When people are outdoors in general, they do not need to wear masks (e.g., participating in outdoor play, recess, and physical education activities). 

8. Communication

In our ongoing efforts to keep our schools open and our students and staff as safe as possible from COVID-19, please click this link if you need to report a positive COVID case to the School District. Reporting this information as soon as possible allows the District to assess potential contact and activate its quarantine procedures quickly, which will help reduce the spread of the virus.

In addition, if you would like to stay informed of the latest number of positive cases in the District, please use this link.

Staying informed and providing the District with quick action is especially important when families and friends gather more often during the holiday season, increasing the risk of potential transmission.

9. Remote Instruction

In the event of an entire class, school-wide, or district-wide closure due to COVID-19, we prepared an alternative remote teaching plan for each level at the start of the year. This plan will be implemented only if the state provides a mandate to close schools or if the number of quarantined employees affects our ability to staff our schools safely. I will communicate the details through the building’s leadership and classroom teachers if these plans are required. Again, we do not expect to need this plan; nonetheless, schools and families should prepare in the event of an unplanned closure.

Finally, to keep our schools open, our community must continue to work together and follow our risk mitigation efforts at school and home; we appreciate your support and cooperation.

David Leach 
Superintendent of Schools


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