Parent/Caregiver Communications

August 4, 2021

Parents and Caregivers:

I hope that this communication finds you safe, healthy, and getting some well-deserved rest.  I wanted to take this opportunity to brief you on our thoughts regarding the opening of school in September.  These thoughts are based on the current (August 4th) conditions in the county and on the recommendations from the various groups who advise us. 

We are all concerned about the reemergence of the COVID-19 virus in the form of the Delta variant and its potential negative impact on our students, staff, and community.  The Delta variant has been described in various scientific journals as being up to 1000 times more contagious than the South African variant.  It is more easily transmitted, requiring less contact time between someone carrying the virus and oneself, to become infected. 

We know, based on the study of the post-July 4th outbreak in Provincetown, Massachusetts, that vaccinated individuals can be reinfected (breakthrough cases), though their symptoms in most cases will be mild.  We have also learned through that event that infected vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus to others.  We know that in many cases, as reported from a study done in China, as well as the Provincetown study, that many of the COVID-19 positive vaccinated cases are either asymptomatic or may not display any symptoms or test positive for as long as 6-8 days after initial exposure to the virus (mean is 4 days after exposure). 

We know that the current vaccinations are effective at minimizing the risk of serious illness resulting from the virus.  We also know that maintaining appropriate distance and wearing a properly fitted mask reduces the potential of inhaling significant quantities of the aerosolized COVID-19 viral particles that cause the infection. 

Data from Ulster County indicates that upwards of 30% of students who are eligible to receive a vaccination have yet to do so.  There is no vaccine currently authorized for the under 12-year-old student population.  We know that while many are vaccinated, many unvaccinated individuals have preexisting medical conditions that may preclude them from being vaccinated. 

We strongly encourage anyone who can be vaccinated to get vaccinated.  This link will take you to the Ulster COVID-19 Vaccination Resource Center through which you can get the latest information on vaccine availability and appointments.

As of this date, we have received no guidance from the NYS Department of Health (DOH), the New York State Education Department (SED), or the Governor’s Office about requirements for the opening of school.  As things stand right now here is what we are planning when school reopens in September:

  • All students who have enrolled in any of our programs and all staff in all locations will be required to always wear a mask (except for scheduled outdoor mask breaks) while in attendance, regardless of vaccination status.  (This represents no change from our present procedures.)
  • We will, to the best of our ability, be maintaining a minimum of 3 feet of social distance between students, and 6 feet between students and staff.
  • We will continue to ask all students and staff to answer our pre-screening app and to show evidence of such completion as they enter our buildings.
  • We will be pivoting to remote instruction whenever necessary as a result of a positive individual who may have impacted others by being in proximity (presently 6 feet), for a specified duration (presently 15 minutes in a 24-hour period).  This requirement to pivot to remote learning may be modified if all involved individuals were correctly and consistently wearing a well-fitting mask for the duration of the contact.
  • Students and staff who are experiencing any of the symptoms of the COVVID-19 virus should not come to school or work.  If symptoms develop during the school or workday the individual will be sent home. 

We may adjust these requirements as conditions change and as necessary based on any received guidance from DOH or SED.  

Our goal is and always has been to keep all who come to any of our sites for school or work, safe.  We want to keep students in school every day, for as long as possible.  With your help and cooperation, we can accomplish that.

I will update you once again as things change or as we receive guidance from NYS DOH or SED. 

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.

 

Charles V. Khoury, Ed.D.
District Superintendent
Ulster BOCES

 

Correspondence