January 2, 2022
Dear WCSD Students, Families, and Staff,
Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable winter break. Although we would all enjoy a New Year’s resolution where we did not need to mention COVID-19, unfortunately, the Omicron variant has made that impossible.
As you may be aware, New York State and Orange County Departments of Health, along with the Governor’s Office have provided new guidelines for schools. Today at 1:00 pm the Superintendent's of Orange County met to discuss how these guidelines will impact our schools. Our goal continues to be focused on taking care of the educational, social and emotional needs of our children. In order to achieve this goal we will continue in-person instruction with our health and safety protocols in place.
In the past week, we have received updated rules and regulations from the New York State Department of Health and as recently as 3:30 pm on New Year’s Eve we received an update from the Orange County Department of Health. The following are the department of health updates and how they apply to our district:
Quarantine/Isolation Period for Students
- Fully vaccinated students who are deemed a close contact will not be required to quarantine.
- Unvaccinated students who are deemed a close contact will be required to quarantine for 10 days. (see Test to Stay for exception for any exposure at school)
- Any student (vaccinated or unvaccinated) that tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to isolate for 10 days.
Quarantine/Isolation Period for Staff
- Fully vaccinated staff who are deemed a close contact will not be required to quarantine.
- Unvaccinated staff who are deemed a close contact will be required to quarantine for 10 days.
- According to Dec 24th guidance from NYDOH, fully vaccinated staff members (essential workers) that test positive for COVID-19 will be cleared to return to work after day 5 of their isolation period if they meet the following criteria:
- They have not had a fever for 72 hours without the use of fever reducing medication.
- They have resolution of symptoms, or if still with residual symptoms, then all are improving.
- They do not have a runny nose.
- They have no more than a minimal cough.
- They must wear a surgical or KN95 (not cloth) mask.
- They must continue to isolate themselves outside of work until the end of the 10 day isolation period.
Test to Stay (TTS) beginning the week of January 10th
Beginning the week of January 10th, WCSD will utilize the Test to Stay (TTS), this will allow the District time to put procedures in place. TTS as a strategy allows asymptomatic unvaccinated school-based close contacts (students and staff) to avoid school exclusion (but not other restrictions of quarantine) by testing negative through serial rapid testing during a 7-day period following exposure at school. The following is the TTS criteria developed by NYSDOH and adopted by OCDOH:
- The exposure must have occurred in the school setting and while both the positive case and exposed individual were consistently and properly masked.
- The exposed individual must remain asymptomatic; otherwise they will be immediately excluded from school per the current school guidance.
- The exposed individual must be tested a minimum of three times during the 7-day period, unless recognition of the exposure is delayed or weekends or school breaks intervene. The test must be conducted prior to entering the school and the results shared with school personnel before the school day begins. Further information regarding how rapid tests will be distributed for TTS, along with specific directions on this procedure will be shared with close contacts prior to the January 10th implementation date.
- The state has provided rapid home kit tests which WCSD is able to use for TTS. The sustainability of TTS is highly dependent on the availability of test kits. These tests will be administered at home in accordance with the directions in the test package. The exposed individual that is allowed to remain in school through TTS must be quarantined outside of school instruction/academic periods (on weekends/holidays while the 7-day TTS period is still active; after school/evenings; no community activities or extracurricular participation including clubs, sports, arts/performance activities, etc.) TTS individuals are allowed to continue to ride the bus following all existing guidance.
- It is still very important for everyone to remember that students, faculty and staff need to stay home if you are ill.
- Any students and staff waiting for the results of a test should stay at home.
As always I appreciate your continued support.
Dr. Larry Washington
Superintendent of Schools