Masking Choice -- Masking Update (3/1/2022)
Beginning Wednesday, March 2, masks/face coverings will be encouraged while in our school buildings, but not required.
We are asking for the patience and cooperation of staff, parents, and students as we navigate these changes and their impact on our daily operations. Our most immediate concerns include:
Students and staff who are medically fragile
The impact, both emotional and physical, of reduced layered mitigations for students and staff
Respecting Personal Choice:
We are offering personal choice with the expectation that individual choices are respected.
One should not make assumptions regarding someone’s beliefs or health status, nor should they comment on them. (For example, students who are at increased risk or have an underlying medical condition like asthma, may choose to continue to wear a mask, that is their choice.)
Be respectful if anyone requests that you remain physically distanced from them. We will continue to provide physical distancing to the extent possible in our classrooms.
For young children, please let teachers know your wishes and they will do their best to reinforce them. The schools will discuss the change with students in a developmentally appropriate manner, including how to respect everyone’s personal choice and how their choice may impact others.
If your child(ren) expresses any anxiety, feel free to reach out to our school counselors for additional support as needed.
Other Items We Need to Continue:
If your child is sick or showing symptoms of illness, please continue to keep them home and let our school nurses know. We have a large supply of testing kits. Please contact school nurses for replacements, if needed. This is a tool to monitor our rate of infection within our school community.
We are still required to ask you to keep your child home for 5 days (from the onset of symptoms) if they test positive. School nurses will not be notifying parents of potential exposure to positive cases at school (unless there is a “cluster” of 3 or more as defined in past updates).
A mask will still be required upon the return to school from a positive case of Covid for days 6-10 of the isolation/quarantine that follows.
We fully realize this is a sudden change in how our schools have been operating, and this change will be met with differing responses. These past two years have been full of emotions. All of us have been affected by this pandemic differently, so I ask everyone to be respectful and sensitive to the individual needs of our families and staff during this transition.
We will work through this as a community. If you have immediate questions or concerns about your child’s specific needs, please contact your building principal.
If you have questions, please feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Masking Update (2/27/2022)
Around 2:30 this afternoon, Governor Hochul announced that schoolwide mask mandates will be lifted in New York State as of this Wednesday, March 2. However, the Governor indicated that counties with high community levels (in high transmission zones, which we are) as newly defined by the CDC may still make the decision to require masks.
We immediately reached out to our county health representatives for guidance upon the Governor’s announcement. It seems unlikely that St. Lawrence County will enact a school mask requirement on their own. This leaves us optimistic that we will be able to turn masking decisions over to families and individuals as of this Wednesday.
As we have stated prior, SLC will continue to support any student or staff member who would like to continue masking by stocking an adequate supply of masks and maintaining an environment that supports efforts of the individual to make health decisions based on their own situation.
I can’t begin to explain how much we appreciate the overwhelming support we have received from students, staff, and parents over the past two years. Covid has brought on many new challenges that will have lasting effects on us all. Our continuing task will be how to address all those challenges with the absolute best effort we can.
Again, we are hopeful this masking transition will begin on Wednesday, March 2nd. Please continue to help us support those families and staff whose choice may be to have their children and/or themselves, still wear masks. Many families in our community have households with elderly relatives, family members with severe asthma and such, as well as other situations where masking may still need to be a choice.
At Home Covid-19 Testing Round Two (2/17/2021)
Today you will see that your child(ren) will be bringing home a box of Covid-19 at-hometest kits to use after the Winter Break (unless you happen to need them prior).
These are the Covid-19 test kits that Mr. Rose has been emailing home about. The previous email can be read at this link: Communication Regarding Home Tests)
We ask (per Governor Hochul's request) that all students please use one test on Monday morning, February 28 before coming to school and the second test 3 days later on Thursday, March 3rd.
If students have tested positive within the last 90 days, DO NOT TEST. You may take the tests home for use after your 90 days is up, if you wish.
If students end up testing positive, then parents please refer to the link below about registering the test online with the health department and also contact one of our school nurses, Ms. Hallahan or Mrs. Tuper.
Ms. Hallahan: email@example.com or 315-389-5131 ext. 29104
Mrs. Tuper: firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-389-5131 ext. 29377
To report your positive results to the health department, fill out this online form.
For more information on testing, quarantine, and isolation please visit https://www.stlawco.org/Departments/PublicHealth/COVID-19.
If students test negative, we will see you on Monday, February 28th morning!
This testing is completely optional for each family, but was requested by NYS, so we are compiling with the request. If PARENTS DO NOT WISH TO USE THESE TESTS, PLEASE RETURN THE UNOPENED BOX TO THE HEALTH OFFICE, or keep them for future use as you need.
Covid Weekly Update With NEWEST Contact Tracing Guidance 1/23/22
Today's update is going to look different than the previous Sunday reports. For the past 10 days, the superintendents of our area have had numerous meetings with Public Health on the newest NYS Public Health Contact Tracing and Quarantining Guidelines. I am going to outline that information in today's report.
As you are most likely aware, health and safety guidance from the state and local health departments related to COVID-19 continues to evolve each month. As always, we at SLC remain committed to keeping our students in school, while providing a safe learning environment for all. We also remain committed to providing staff and families with clear, updated information on the latest guidance as it relates to COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and isolation.
This past week the NYS Department of Health in compliance with CDC recommendations has determined that schools no longer need to perform contact tracing for positive individuals. The Board of Health for St. Lawrence County Public Health has notified us that they have now also adopted these guidelines. *It is important to note that contact tracing is not the same as quarantine and all recently updated quarantine requirements and protocols are still in place for schools across the state.
One of the biggest changes you can expect is that the New York State Department of Health will no longer conduct contact tracing. This means that individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 will no longer be contacted by their local department of health. Going forward, we will no longer be collecting information about contacts to report to county health departments. Parents, faculty, and staff will be responsible for notifying the school (Ms. Hallahan or Mrs. Tuper) about any exposures that occur outside of the school setting. Please be mindful of returning to school after an exposure and ensure that you follow the quarantine guidelines. The linked chart is very helpful in understanding the new protocols: Quarantine/Isolation Protocols
It is important to note: There may be an occasion in the event of a positive cluster or high risk exposure when SLCPHD may ask us to conduct contact tracing. If this becomes necessary, we will fall back on our previous phone call notification system. More than likely, a "cluster" for us will mean 3 or more positive cases in one area (lunchroom, bus, athletic team, or an after 3:30 extracurricular activity).
One of the keys to ensuring the success of this new approach is rigorous symptom monitoring. Given the large number of positive cases in our region, the safest assumption is that we are all exposed on a fairly regular basis, and as such, should be mindful of any COVID associated symptom. Please contact Ms. Hallahan or Mrs. Tuper if any additional home tests are needed and we will provide them so long as our supply remains consistent. In school testing can be done, but will only occur with previous parent permission given.
Any student with symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, must have a negative lab PCR test, lab antigen test, or two negative over-the-counter antigen tests (taken 24-48 hours apart depending on manufacturer instructions) in order to return to school. If you choose to use the
at-home tests as proof for return, parents will need to submit a Return to School Form found here: SLC Return To School Form
Again, at-home test kits can be provided by school (all long as supplies last) and NYS has now made it mandatory that all health insurance carriers must provide 8 home tests for individuals.
A final reminder: now that Public Health is no longer contact tracing, notification of possible exposures from school will be done by either school email, Class Dojo, and/or text alerts.
Our hope is not to confuse you more with these new updates, but to keep you "in the loop" and strike a balance of keeping our students and staff in school, while staying committed to the overall health and safety of everyone involved.
Covid Update (At Home Testing) - 1/6/2022
We appreciate the email responses back from yesterday's updates and as promised here is today's update on the At-Home Testing Kits that will be coming home with your children tomorrow. If for any reason your child will NOT be in school tomorrow please feel free to stop by the HS or EL school offices to receive the kits for your family. If transportation is a problem, we can also send them home with a neighbor etc. whatever you prefer so you get them.
Below you will see the instructions and reasoning for the at-home kits and a VIDEO created by our nurses, on how to prep, give, and read the test (feel free to watch the video a few times before the Monday morning test).
As has been reported in the media, New York State has made thousands of at-home COVID-19 test kits available to schools statewide. These test kits were delivered to our local BOCES over the weekend and have now been distributed to each of our schools.
The purpose of these tests is to monitor the spread of COVID-19 within our community as part of the ongoing effort to keep our school buildings open for in-person instruction. Tests can be utilized whether or not a student is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19; so we will be sending kits home with ALL students unless you email our nurses to say you do not want them.
State and local health officials are providing these tests as a resource to schools and families. Our plan is that these tests (two tests per box) will be distributed to students and brought home from school on Friday, January 7th. We are asking that parents conduct one of these tests on their students prior to sending them to school on the morning of Monday, January 10th. You may utilize the second test at your discretion (for example, if you or your student begins showing symptoms of COVID-19).
Please note that any positive test results from an at-home test must be reported to the local health department and to your school nurse. You do not need to report test results obtained elsewhere, and you do not need to report negative test results.
To report your results, fill out the online form found on the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department (SLCPHD) website. For additional information on reporting positive at-home test results, please see the attached document from St. Lawrence County Public Health.
Please remember that if your child has a symptom of COVID-19, they should be tested at home using a rapid test, or at a clinic, doctor’s office or a testing site. Anyone with a positive test result should isolate and contact St. Lawrence County Public Health. For more information on testing, quarantine, and isolation please visit https://www.stlawco.org/Departments/PublicHealth/COVID-19.
For instructions on how to administer the at home test, please view our Covid-19 Rapid Test Instructions Video.
Thank you for your continued partnership as we work to keep our students in school. If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 testing or other health and safety protocols, please do not hesitate to call either of our school nurses:
FYI: We did have a few teachers in the MS go home with positive Covid tests today, but we still feel we are in good shape to have school "as normal" tomorrow. Please know that next Monday's school day could be hectic, to say the least, as we try and get a handle on how our entire student population is doing. Please remember that if a child tests positive Monday morning, do not be alarmed, but be sure to follow the above instructions on how to contact Public Health and email your child's nurse.
Fingers crossed, we get through this next "wave" and keep our doors open to continue in person instruction. With your help, we will make it happen so that your children are in the safest and best educational environment they can be in!
Again, we thank you for your continued partnership with us through these crazy times.
Covid Update - 1/5/2022
This past week many of you have been hearing news about all sorts of possible changes to our current NYS Covid protocols and testing in public schools. I appreciate your patience and trust in knowing that we would update you as soon as we could. After two long Zoom meetings (Monday and today) with other superintendents and Public Health Officials we have come to one definite conclusion: be ready for changes, more changes, and even more changes over the next few weeks. Not really helpful, but I am going to lay out the short version of the updates and some "fine print" items you have most likely NOT heard in the news.
1. Test to Stay (TTS) for Unvaccinated Students
Our local Public Health has come out saying they are in support of this.
* This program has been offered by NYS, but must be agreed upon by each county individually first. From there, every school within the county must then agree to do it before it can be offered at all.
* NYS says each school must first propose a school policy, on TTS, to its Board of Education before the program can begin. Currently our BOE must see a policy reading two times (two separate meetings) before they can act on it. This would take at least 2-3 months to get approval. This "policy" requirement is one of the changes we may hear about next week from NYS.
* The "fine print" you may not have heard:
a. TTS is only for children who were exposed here at school (home and weekend exposures are not eligible for TTS).
b. While here, the children in quarantine must have had a mask on the entire time they were near the positive Covid individual (this eliminates anyone in the cafeteria when masks were off within the quarantine zone).
c. TTS does get students back to school much sooner (a positive) but does NOT allow them to stay for any extracurricular activities or sports after school until the full ten days of original quarantine are up.
2. 5 Day Quarantine vs. 10 (for vaccinated essential workers that test positive only)
Fine print: You must have had both shots AND your booster to be eligible.
* Last week NYS agreed with the CDS that all school staff were essential workers and could use the 5 day quarantine if fully vaccinated. As of January 4th, NYS has since reversed their stand on school staff being essential and have removed them/us from the list of those eligible. This decision is also one of the changes we may hear about next week from NYS.
3. Home Test Kits being sent to all families with school age children.
* This IS going to happen this Friday (January 7th). A more detailed information sheet will be shared, along with a video of how to give the test, in an email tomorrow.
* Why is this happening? NYS wants us to see how much spread has occurred, in our communities, during the long holiday break.
* If you do NOT want the tests sent home to you, please email or call our school nurses and let them know today. We will keep any extra tests for those families who may need them later on. (email@example.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org)