December 30, 2021
Dear Chatham CSD Families:
We hope you are enjoying a restful holiday break with your family. As we look ahead to the New Year, the health and safety of our students and staff remains our highest priority. Our schools will be open, as scheduled, on Monday, January 3 for all students. However, we are putting additional health and safety measures in place to mitigate the spread of COVID and keep our schools open for learning. On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Hochul held a webinar with superintendents to discuss her desire to keep schools open across the state. She pledged millions of test kits to provide to school districts through their local Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). While the Governor’s goal was for families to administer these tests at home prior to their children arriving from break on Monday, there are many obstacles with this given the timing of the holiday break. In a memo to school districts yesterday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett indicated that districts could use the kits to implement Test to Stay, test on the first day back (for those who previously consented to testing), or as part of ongoing surveillance testing. We expect the test kits to arrive sometime next week.
COVID Testing After Returning from Holiday Break
As previously stated, the take-home test kits have not yet been delivered. We will notify you when they arrive and provide information on how we will distribute them to families.
Anyone who tests positive on a take-home test should immediately report their results to the school and begin isolating. Students testing positive using an at-home test kit must complete a lab-confirmed COVID test. Please visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you to find a nearby testing site.
Students who test positive must isolate for 10 days and can return to school on day 11 if there is symptom resolution. At this time, individuals cannot test out of quarantine or isolation.
Taking part in testing is voluntary. We strongly encourage that you utilize these home test kits for your children when they are available. If you or others in your household need to be tested, please visit https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you to find a nearby testing site.
Test to Stay Update
Last week, the state updated guidance on Test to Stay to reduce the number of students and staff who would be excluded from school following a COVID exposure. At this time, the Columbia County Health Department is reviewing and assessing the equity and feasibility of a possible Test to Stay strategy for our area. Local school districts and the BOCES will continue to monitor local conditions in partnership with our local health departments.
The New York State Department of Health has not at this time adopted the CDC updates on shortening quarantine and isolation for the general population. The state has only adopted this reduction for vaccinated essential workers, which does include teachers. As a result, the quarantine period for students remains at 10 days. If there are any changes, we will communicate them as soon as possible.
We are seeing the impact of the omicron variant throughout the region and state. We ask for your continued cooperation in following our established COVID protocols, including mask wearing, physical distancing, and staying home when sick. We will continue to keep you updated with any changes to conditions or protocols. Thank you for your continued partnership and patience.