Earlier this month, we shared information with our district families about the state’s strategy to combat COVID-19 through a color-coded system known as the Micro-Cluster Initiative. This system designates areas of the state as Yellow, Orange or Red zones based on the prevalence of COVID-19. Each zone has certain restrictions and protocols designed to limit the spread of the virus, which includes school-based COVID testing for students and staff.
While our school district is not currently within an area designated a zone, this week Albany County officials have announced new record numbers of COVID-19-related hospitalizations. Given that infection and hospitalizations rates continue to trend higher, it appears likely that our community could move into a yellow zone soon. We are preparing for this possibility – and that includes a plan for testing students and staff members, if or when a designation occurs.
State guidelines require schools within a designated zone test a certain percentage of all students and staff over a given time period. Depending on how the results compare with the overall population, schools could be able to stay open for in-person teaching and learning.
We are asking our families to please help keep our schools open for in-person instruction for students by consenting to in-school COVID-19 testing. If you have not already done so, please complete this online consent form as soon as possible for each child who is enrolled in our schools.
Having our families give their consent to COVID testing ahead of time is one less step we will have to take toward keeping our schools open. Please note that we would not conduct any testing without providing advance notice, and parents may be present during their child’s test, if requested. Tests will be non-invasive, rapid screening tools. There will be no cost to families for these tests.
Please keep the following in mind:
- Students participating in remote learning 5 days per week are not required to be tested. Families of those children learning at home do not need to complete a consent form.
- COVID testing of students is voluntary. We hope to have your cooperation so that we can keep our schools open for in-person learning and teaching.
- Tests will be administered by the school nurse.
- In the event of positive results, we will follow all of our current protocols regarding working with public health partners regarding contact tracing and quarantining.
- Testing requirements vary by zone. We continue to monitor news from the county and state, and will provide more information about the participation levels needed.
- If we are unable to meet the minimum requirement for testing by school, we would likely need to shift to remote learning for all students for a time period that is undefined at this point.
We appreciate your partnership, cooperation and flexibility throughout this process and will continue to communicate with you about any changes to our COVID-19 school response. Thank you for doing your part to keep our school community safe by wearing a mask, regularly washing your hands or using hand sanitizer and maintaining social distancing. Right now, these are still the best tools we have to protect against COVID-19 infection.
(This message was sent to WCSD families via One Call Now email on Wednesday, Dec. 30.)