The 2022-2023 school year opened with cautious optimism about the decreased COVID restrictions from CDC and New York State guidance. Officials shared that we now had better measures to deal with cases, and that the disease has become more manageable than it was at the beginning of the pandemic. Many experts expected, that as we returned to the school setting and as people spent more time indoors, cases would rise.
As predicted, the return to school has increased the number of cases among school age children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (the national organization representing children’s doctors) reported a 14% increase in the number of cases among children during the last week in August. Much of this increase came from the south, where schools returned to session earlier in August.
In our own district, we have had cases in students and adults. Given the changed protocols currently in place via New York State and CDC guidance, individuals are not required to report positive cases. Still, we know cases exist and will likely increase as we spend more time indoors and together.
We are writing to both inform you of the facts above, and to remind you of the personal protections individuals may choose.
Those who choose may opt for vaccination and boosters. Vaccinations and boosters are very much a personal decision for individuals and parents, but for those who choose, we have partnered with the Niagara County Health Department for a vaccination clinic at Emmet Belknap from 4:00-7:00 on September 20.
The current state/CDC guidance provides for a 5-day isolation period followed by a 5-day masking period. The guidance also suggests individuals may wish to consider masking in any public indoor spaces. Masking in school remains an option for staff and students. We support the decision individuals and their families make about masks and will have masks available upon request in each of our buildings for those who choose to wear them.
Lastly, good health hygiene remains a protection from COVID 19 and many other illnesses. Hand washing, coughing/sneezing into your elbow, and staying home when ill as well as our school cleaning protocols help protect one another from COVID and other illnesses.
We have battled the COVID pandemic at its worst and have tools available to help us persevere as we return to school where we belong and face the seasonal challenge. We will get through this, together. Stay well and take care of yourself and the rest of our lion pride.