Thank you for supporting us as we safely reopened schools. As you know from my previous updates and plans posted in the COVID 19 section of our website, we have followed the NYS Guidelines from the State Education Department and from the NYS Department of Health. We also confer with the St. Lawrence County Health Board and the local St. Lawrence County Public Health Department.
The St. Lawrence County Public Health Department is our guide to the NYS rules. They coordinate with the state organization and in turn, give us local guidance. This partnership has been critical in maintaining our school reopening.
The latest guidance from the NYS Department of Health has been inconsistent and changing. This has placed our parents, nurses, and school in very difficult situation. The guidance identifies the signs and symptoms of COVID 19, which are very similar to the signs, and symptoms of many other illnesses. We have been instructed that no symptom is given greater attention than another. For example, a fever of over 100 degrees merits the same concern as a runny nose. A student demonstrating any of the symptoms must be referred to see their doctor or a health care professional.
Once their doctor sees the student, the doctor can recommend a COVID 19 test or an “alternative diagnosis” that is confirmed by a laboratory test. The examples given in the guidelines are strep throat or influenza. If the doctor confirms an “alternative diagnosis”, the student may return to school with a note from the doctor. The “alternative diagnosis” option had been removed from the guidelines for a short period.
If a student tests and positive, the Public Health Department will conduct contact tracing. If negative, the student can return to school when symptoms have improved with proof of the negative test.
New to the guidelines is the 48-hour timeline for a student to be seen by a doctor or health care professional. Once the nurse sends a student home, they have 48 hours to receive an “alternative diagnosis” or a negative test result. If not completed within 48 hours, the student must be reported to Public Health and deemed as a positive! Public Health will then begin contract tracing and possibly quarantine for anyone that may have been in contact with the student.
I want to make sure parents have this information as it could have huge ramifications upon our in person learning and your child’s attendance in school. Although we all recognize the need to follow the NYS Guidelines, frustration builds as we attempt to safely keep our students in school. We appreciate your understanding as NYS works through the appropriate monitoring of our students.
Please call our nurses if there are questions about health care providers or you are in need of health care support.
Superintendent of Schools