Update on COVID School Procedures
October 7, 2020
Dear Parents & Guardians:
First off, thank you for your tremendous support throughout the start of this school year. These are challenging and uncertain times for all of us, and there seems to be new information to process and put into application daily. You have been flexible, understanding, and great teammates in finding our way through it all. We appreciate you and your continued support.
We are writing to update, share, and clarify information. Last week the New York State Department of Health released a “PK-12 School COVID-19 School Toolkit” that prompted county public health offices and school districts to update procedures and protocols. Mostly, the toolkit helped to clarify some gray areas that were interpreted and handled differently depending on what county you reside in or you see your doctor in. This toolkit outlines a timeline that must be met for symptomatic students to be evaluated by their healthcare provider and receive any ordered test results. This timeline will be driven by public health and their contact tracing procedures. It is possible that if the timeline is not met that a student would be considered a “presumed positive.” Finally, we would like to outline the protocols that are district-made decisions that go above and beyond the baseline regulations, and therefore may differ from a neighboring school district.
Positive Case Response Plan
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 the school building will be closed for a minimum of three days to allow for thorough contact tracing. This means that students and teachers will move into remote instruction for this period of time. It is important to emphasize that it is not a school closure - school will still be in session, it will just be remote. This is a district-made decision. We consulted with Hamilton County Public Health and in thinking about what is best for our small community to support public health in thorough contact tracing, we determined that a minimum of three days was needed. If during their contact tracing Hamilton County Public Health determines that we need to keep our building closed longer, we will follow their guidance. Any information on a building closure and transition to remote learning will be communicated with families via our One Call Now telephone messaging service. Please make sure we have up-to-date phone information at school so you receive any and all messages.
Daily Health Screenings
We ask families to complete the daily health screening that is sent via text and/or email every morning on a daily basis. The questions will guide you through decision-making on whether your child (ren) needs to stay home for the day. If you have more than one child in your family, you are answering for all of your children. If you can answer “yes” to any of the questions for any of your children, please answer “yes.” At the end of the screener it will then ask you which child (ren) you answered “yes” for. The screener will also tell you that all children need to stay home and to contact your healthcare provider.
If a child has symptoms, they must be immediately evaluated by a healthcare provider. At the time of the evaluation, the healthcare provider will determine whether a COVID-19 test is needed or if they have an alternate acute or chronic diagnosis that explains the symptoms.
Return to School for Symptomatic Child
Please see the enclosed New York State Department of Health document titled “My child has COVID-19 symptoms. When can they go back to school?” to view the complete flow chart.
If a COVID-19 test was ordered by the doctor, prior to returning to school, the school must receive a note from the healthcare provider indicating a negative COVID-19 test result or copy of the negative test result.
If a COVID-19 test was not ordered and alternate diagnosis is given, prior to returning to school, the school must receive a note from the healthcare provider explaining the alternate diagnosis.
Siblings of Symptomatic Child
It is the district’s protocol that if a student presents symptoms of COVID-19 that their siblings will either stay home or go home until the symptomatic child is cleared by a healthcare provider. This protocol goes above and beyond the NYS DOH guidelines and is a district-made decision. Our reasoning for this decision is that we have a small school community operating 100% in-person in one building, and therefore this protocol will help us to maintain our in-person instruction. With a small, interconnected community this is what we think is best.
Asymptomatic siblings of a symptomatic child are not required to be evaluated by a healthcare provider. However, if the parent/guardian chooses to have the asymptomatic child (ren) evaluated by the same healthcare provider as the symptomatic child, and the doctor determines they are cleared to return to school, they can come back before their symptomatic sibling. Prior to their return to school, the school must receive a note from the doctor indicating their clearance.
Return to School Required Paperwork
A signed note from the healthcare provider clearing your child to return to school must be received by the school before riding the bus or reentering the building. Please have the healthcare provider fax the clearance note and/or negative COVID-19 test result to the school.
The school will confirm by phone when the paperwork is received so that you know your child is ready to return. It is important to emphasize that we must have the paperwork in-hand for the clearance to be complete, so do not send your child to school until you have received confirmation by phone from the school.
Hamilton County Public Health created a form for schools, families, and doctors to use for communicating COVID-19 symptoms, alternate diagnoses, and steps for returning to school. This form is available on our website. A sample is enclosed. This form will also be given to you in-person if you child presents symptoms while at school and needs to be picked up.
Remote Learning for Students While Waiting for Clearance to Return to School
Remote learning is available for students who are out of school due to COVID-19 related reasons. It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to notify the school if they would like their child (ren) to have access to remote learning. The office will work in coordination with the parents/guardians and teachers to make remote learning accessible.
Please contact us with any questions. Thank you for your continued support.
Ms. Noelle J. Short & Mrs. Michelle Billings, RN