December 30, 2021
Red Raider Community:
On Tuesday, I participated in a Zoom meeting with Governor Hochul and DOH Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett. The purpose of the meeting was to inform superintendents that NYS was in the process of securing rapid tests to be distributed across the state for usage in schools. The idea was to get a test in the hands of families so that each school age child could use the rapid test for screening prior to returning to school on January 3.
I participated in a virtual meeting this morning with Superintendents from the WSWHE BOCES and we learned that the tests are coming, but we will not receive them until early next week. Therefore the idea of screening our students before returning to school is not possible. The first allotment of tests will provide one test kit (2 rapid tests) per student enrolled in our district. The tests are not for staff or any other school community member, just students.
We received additional information from DOH Commissioner Bassett that tests could also be used for the implementation of a Test to Stay (TTS) program or Surveillance Testing program. Saratoga County has adopted the use of a TTS program; they conducted a very successful pilot program with South Glens Falls CSD in November. The only students to be tested under a TTS program are non-vaccinated, asymptomatic students who come in close contact with a known positive case.
In consultation with Saratoga County Public Health, we will be implementing a TTS program as well as testing students who become symptomatic during the school day. There will be more detailed information coming out regarding this program’s implementation in Mechanicville next week.
In keeping with the spirit of the original intent by Governor Hochul, once the tests arrive we will offer parents the opportunity to pick up a test kit if you choose to conduct an at home screening of your child. I learned today that the tests are not to be used as entry to school for a student who is exhibiting symptoms.
In closing, I know how hard this pandemic has been on our school community. It is our intent to keep schools open while continuing to keep our kids and staff safe! The data shows that school buildings are not the source of spread. Additionally, Saratoga County has adopted the CDC 5 day quarantine for positive cases. This adjustment alone reduces the number of school days missed.
I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy New Year! Stay safe!!