Face Coverings, Travel, COVID-19 Testing Updates

Now that the holiday season is upon us, we wanted to take this opportunity to notify you of some recent changes regarding COVID-19 travel and other protocols and practices, and to assure you that the district is taking all necessary steps to keep students and staff healthy during this time.

Update on Face Coverings

Public Health officials have announced that it is not recommending the use of neck gaiters, bandanas, or scarves as a form of face coverings in school settings. According to the CDC, current research suggests that the use of these items are not effective at this time. Therefore, properly fitting face masks that cover a student’s nose and mouth are the only acceptable face coverings at this time. Face coverings with vents are also not acceptable.

Rapid COVID-19 Tests are No Longer Acceptable as Clearance to Return to School

Due to the high rate of false negatives on rapid COVID-19 tests, Public Health officials have advised school districts that they should no longer accept negative rapid tests for individuals who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms within the past 14 days. In order for students to be “cleared” to return to school after experiencing symptoms, they need a note from their health care provider AND documentation of a negative COVID-19 lab test.

Updated Travel Advisory

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced New Travel Guidelines allowing out-of-state travelers to New York to “test out” of the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Travelers from states that are contiguous (share a border) with New York will continue to be exempt from the travel advisory; however, covered travelers must continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form. (Essential workers will continue to be exempt. The travel advisory applies to New York state residents who travel out of state as well.) For any traveler coming to New York from another state, except the contiguous (bordering) states, the new guidelines for travelers to test-out of the mandatory 14-day quarantine are below:

 For travelers who were in another state for more than 24 hours:

  • Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state.
  • The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
  • On day four of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test. If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.

For travelers who were in another state for less than 24 hours:

  • The traveler does not need a test prior to their departure from the other state, and does not need to quarantine upon arrival in New York State.
  • However, the traveler must fill out the traveler form upon entry into New York state, and take a COVID diagnostic test 4 days after their arrival in New York.

The travel guidelines require all New Yorkers, as well as those visiting from out of state, to take personal responsibility for compliance in the best interest of public health and safety.

District Communication Procedures if Public Health Determines Students Need to Quarantine

In the event that one of our schools has a confirmed positive COVID-19 case, the district will be in communication with Public Health officials. Public Health officials will determine if potentially exposed students (and staff) are required to be placed on a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Once that determination is made, Public Health officials require school district personnel to contact parents to notify them of this. Then, within 24 to 48 hours, a Public Health contact tracer will be in contact with the family to review the details of the mandatory quarantine. When school personnel are directed to contact parents, they are required to notify them that their child is not only quarantined from school, but from going out in public in general. Therefore, district officials felt it was important to share this process with families ahead of time so that if this situation were to arise, parents know what to expect.

In the event that your child is placed on mandatory quarantine by Public Health officials, the following guidance has been provided to us:

  • If a child is put on mandatory quarantine due to exposure to a positive case, it is recommended that parents take their child to get a COVID-19 test, however, it is not required. If a child becomes symptomatic, then COVID-19 testing is required by Public Health.
  • If a child gets a COVID-19 test and it comes back negative, they are still required to be on mandatory quarantine for 14 days. In other words, an individual cannot “test” out of a mandatory quarantine, for it can take up to 14 days for an exposed individual to test positive.
  • Other individuals in the household are not required to quarantine, including siblings, unless the quarantined student becomes symptomatic and/or tests positive for COVID-19. Ultimately, it is Public Health officials who would determine if anyone else in the household is required to be placed on mandatory quarantine.

We are very proud of how well our students have been doing adhering to the new health and safety protocols. We are also very appreciative of how hard all of our faculty and staff have been working to ensure the safety and well being of our students. We thank all of our parents for their ongoing support and understanding as we continue to work together.

As changes come our way in terms of safety protocols, we will continue to keep you updated. Up to date news and information can be found on the District’s website at www.bhbl.org. Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s school nurse or building principal if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Sharon McTygue, Director of Special Services & District COVID-19 Contact Person