As we prepare to open our schools next week, we have received guidance on COVID-19 safety protocols for the 2022-23 year from state and federal health officials. View the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance released earlier this month.
View “What Parents/Caregivers Should Know about COVID Mitigation Strategies for the 2022-2023 School Year” from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
As noted in the guidance, this year will begin differently than the prior two years. Masks, quarantines, and social distancing requirements will not be part of our return to school plans. Still, we recognize that there are ongoing risks associated with COVID-19 and other viruses that require care and attention. For that reason, our district will continue to follow strategies that have helped keep our students and staff healthy, as outlined below.
Students and staff are not required to wear masks on the school bus or in school buildings; however, any student or staff member may choose to wear a mask while at school to prevent the spread of illness. Mask-wearing is recommended for at least 10 days following a positive COVID test or COVID illness (see below).
Illness/Positive COVID test
As with any infectious illness, students and staff who test positive for COVID-19, or who exhibit symptoms, should stay home from school and follow the Centers for Disease Control’s Isolation Guidance.
Students and staff who test positive but have no symptoms may return to school after day five (5). When reporting a child’s absence to the school’s attendance office, please let staff know if your child tested positive for COVID-19. (Schools, like medical facilities, are required to keep track of illnesses such as COVID-19, flu, Pertussis, etc.)
Students and staff who are sick (have symptoms) and test positive may return to school after day 5 from the onset of symptoms if they have been fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and symptoms are improving.
According to the CDC recommendations, people who have been sick, or tested positive, should wear a mask through day 10. (Individuals who have two negative rapid tests–one on day 6 and one on day 8 can remove their masks prior to day 10.)
Testing is recommended for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms as soon as possible after symptoms begin.
At-home test kits
Our schools have at-home COVID-19 test kits for students and families. If you need an at-home COVID test, please contact your child’s school nurse.
Other health and safety protocols
Routine cleaning in our school buildings continues to be an important strategy for reducing the spread of illness. High-risk areas such as health offices, classrooms, lunchrooms, athletic rooms, bathrooms and high-traffic areas are cleaned daily. High-touch surfaces such as lunch tables, desks, chairs, light switches and handrails are cleaned several times a day.
We will continue to encourage students and staff to practice hand washing and respiratory etiquette in our schools.
Because we are no longer required to conduct contract tracing, seating will return to normal on the buses, at lunch, and during events and classroom activities.
Watervliet recently received dozens of air purification units from Albany County to use in classrooms. These units will help increase ventilation and filtration, which will support our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses in our schools. We will also continue to improve our ventilation systems district-wide.
Our primary concern continues to be the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and families. We will continue to maintain close contact with the Albany County Health Department, the NYSDOH, and the NYSED and follow their recommendations regarding public health. We will be sure to provide updates to our students, staff and families, as needed, throughout the year.
Please contact our school nurses or your child’s building principal or assistant principal with any questions. Thank you for helping to ensure that our schools remain healthy!