12/31: COVID Update from Superintendent McGrath

Dear BH-BL Parents,

I hope you and your families had a nice holiday break. I wanted to provide an update as we head into the weekend and prepare to welcome in a New Year.  We are looking forward to seeing all of our students and staff back in school on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022!

As you are likely aware, there has been a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases reported in our counties over the last few weeks. It is unclear exactly what the numbers will look like when we return from break on Monday, so it is important that we stay in close communication. In addition, the latest guidance from the CDC will affect the way that our two counties handle quarantines. It is also possible that the increase in cases may have an effect on staffing levels in transportation and in our school buildings in the coming weeks. We will respond as rapidly and flexibly as possible with every intention of keeping our buildings open and our learning in-person. We will continue to stay connected with you on both a district level (via SchoolMessenger) and a building level (via email from your child’s principal) as developments occur.

During the break there were a few state updates issued in relation to quarantine times, testing to stay in school, and at-home testing kits that the state will be providing our students. This afternoon, Governor Hochul gave a press conference. Information is changing on a daily basis, however we wanted to share with you what we know at this point on Friday afternoon:

Quarantine Guidelines Updated. Depending on exposure to positive cases and individuals’ symptoms, some quarantine times have been reduced to five days. Remember that any quarantine orders come from the Departments of Health and not the school. Please review the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Saratoga County and Schenectady County Department of Health websites. We will do our best to support these guidelines.

Test-to-Stay. We are currently making arrangements to implement the “Test-to-Stay” effort at BH-BL in mid January. This effort is aimed at minimizing the number of students who would have otherwise been required to quarantine based on close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. This means, with parental permission, we will be periodically testing students who are asymptomatic, unvaccinated, and who have been in close contact with an individual who tested positive. These students will be allowed to stay in school if their test results are negative and they do not develop COVID-19 related symptoms. Additionally, students who are vaccinated and asymptomatic will not be tested and do not need to quarantine unless symptoms develop. Please note: We will only test students if they’ve received parental permission.

Distribution of rapid tests to students/families. Just before break, Governor Hochul announced that every school district in the state will receive rapid test kits to distribute to families to allow students to begin at-home testing. At this time the test kits have not yet arrived at BH-BL but are expected in mid January. It is unclear at this point how the home testing may interface with the test-to-stay protocols discussed above. More information on this will follow as soon as we receive it.

COVID Positive Case Numbers. We will continue to submit daily COVID positive case numbers to the state and post them on our website, along with other regional data that is updated weekly. Please visit our website to view this data. [DAILY DATA WEBPAGE] (We did not update during break but will resume Jan. 3.)

Finally, please review the Emergency Closing and Delays page of our website. We would follow these basic procedures should we need to close school for weather or health related reasons.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2022,