September 7, 2021
Dear Chatham Families,
I wanted to provide you with an update on state and regional developments concerning COVID-19 regulations for schools.
As you may have heard, in late August, NYS mandated that masks must be worn by all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, inside all schools and on the bus.The wearing of masks outdoors on school grounds remains optional.
On September 2, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued interim guidance for classroom instruction this school year. This newly released DOH guidance addresses the minimum expectations for instruction and operations, and is consistent with the CDC guidance that we used to develop Chatham’s opening plan for this school year.
Also on September 2, the DOH issued a Commissioner’s Determination requiring COVID-19 testing in schools. Per the Commissioner’s Determination, all school personnel must submit to weekly testing for the virus or provide proof of full vaccination. Moreover, schools must offer screening testing to unvaccinated students (whose parents/guardians provide consent) on a weekly basis in areas identified by the CDC as having moderate, substantial or high transmission rates. Schools must also have the capacity to provide diagnosis testing for any students or staff (regardless of vaccination status if they are symptomatic or asymptomatic following exposure). These are new requirements.
As of today, funding for testing has not been released by the state to allow schools to fulfill these new requirements. Also, there is currently a region-wide shortage of testing kits. At this time, we are working together with local school districts and departments of health to facilitate the staffing, supplies and information that will be required to implement the testing of students and staff as soon as practicable to ensure a safe environment in our schools. We will provide you with more information as soon as we are able to.
Thank you for your continued patience and support. We look forward to seeing everybody again when classes resume this Thursday, September 9th.
Superintendent of Schools