Yesterday, Governor Kathy Hochul and State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett released updated state guidance for addressing the COVID-19 and Monkeypox viruses in schools.These plans align with recent CDC guidance released two weeks ago.
As the governor stated, this year will be starting very differently than the previous two years. Masks, quarantines, and social distancing requirements will not be part of our return to school plans.
Still, there are ongoing risks associated with these viruses that require care and attention and our district will adhere to mitigation strategies that have been proven to help keep our students and staff healthy. Here is a summary of the update guidance and practices that we will use going forward:
- Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 should still isolate for 5 days at home following the onset of symptoms. Those whose symptoms improve may resume attending school after 5 days if they are fever-free without fever reducing medicine for 24 hours and they wear a mask through day 10 or complete the protocols laid out here.
- Universal mask wearing is not required. Students and staff who choose to wear masks may do so, of course, and continue to wear masks based on their comfort levels and risk factors.
- Those exposed to COVID-19 will no longer be required to quarantine or “test to stay” in school, though they should still be watchful for symptoms and stay home if they are feeling unwell.
- Those who have tested positive are still encouraged to report to Schenectady County Public Health Services (SCPHS) so that they can keep track of trends in our area.
- DCS will continue to provide free masks and antigen tests as needed through our health offices.
- DCS will no longer conduct screening testing for unvaccinated staff members or those participating in extracurricular activities, nor are we required to report positivity rates.
- DCS is no longer required to conduct contract tracing and so seating on the buses, during lunch, events and classroom activities will return to normal.
- DCS has received a number of air purification units from SCPHS to use in classrooms free of cost. We have targeted ES classrooms for initial deployment. Our hope is that these units not only curtail COVID-19 infections, but also other airborne illnesses. We will also continue to improve our ventilation systems district-wide.
- DCS will continue to encourage students to practice good hand washing etiquette in its schools.
- As of now, there are no Monkeypox-related requirements for school operations, as schools are considered to be low-risk.
Our primary concern remains the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We will continue to maintain close contact with SCPHS, the NYS Department of Health, and the NYS Department of Education and follow their recommendations regarding public health. Thank you for your efforts in helping to ensure that our schools remain healthy!