Parent/Caregiver Communications

January 2, 2022

Dear Parents and Caregivers:

I hope that all had a pleasant holiday break. As we approach the end of the holiday vacation period, I wanted to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on the status of our schools as we prepare to return.

We have all seen the rapid, almost exponential increase in COVID-19 cases over the past month. In this area upwards of 30% of the new cases have been in school aged children. This is concerning. Our goal has always been to keep our schools and programs open for in-person instruction. To accomplish this goal, we will need everyone’s cooperation.

If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 it is important that you DO NOT send them to school. This simple step protects their vulnerable classmates, teachers, and other school staff. If in doubt, please keep them home.  

We have allowed students who have tested positive and those who have developed symptoms to connect to class remotely, and will continue to do so. We will now also allow students whose parents or caregivers feel they may have been exposed to the virus to connect to class remotely, as appropriate, until this current surge subsides. We are committed to working with all of you to keep our students and staff safe.

For those students who come to school it is also important that they wear a properly fitted, high-quality mask throughout the day. I’d suggest a KN95, KN94, or an N95 mask. If such a mask is unavailable, then you should consider double masking. Weather permitting, all students will be provided with socially distant mask breaks outdoors.  

Science has indicated that the strongest protection against serious COVID-19 illness, and the ability to spread the virus to others, is vaccination. We respect each family’s decision to vaccinate or not but if you have any questions about the safety of the vaccines, I encourage you to reach out to your health care provider for their advice and counsel. There are vaccinations available for all school aged students. 

A second deterrent is surveillance testing. Every family who requested a rapid test kit before the holidays was provided with one by their home school district, courtesy of the Ulster County government. These rapid tests are a quick way of determining if one is infected.  

If you suspect that your child may have been exposed, then test them. Each of the distributed kits contain two tests. The test should be administered on day 3 and day 5 after exposure. Research has shown that testing before day 3 may yield a negative result. If, however you are unsure of when exposure may have occurred then test immediately. Additional test kits will be made available by districts this week. 

On December 24th the NYS Department of Health endorsed the Test-to-Stay approach. This approach is designed to keep unvaccinated student and staff close contacts who aren’t experiencing any symptoms in school. This regulation requires that they test three times in the seven days immediately following the close contact with an infected individual. These tests must be administered before the student or staff member enters school. If the test result is negative, then they can attend that day and can continue to attend until the next test. The process continues for seven days; with a student not being excluded so long as the test results remain negative. In each situation, we will provide a testing schedule to meet the requirements of the regulation. 

At-home test results that are submitted and certified by a parent or caregiver are acceptable. If at any time during the seven-day period an individual experiences any symptoms, they must stay home regardless of the test results. The school district will provide take-home test kits at no cost to the family of any student eligible for the Test-to-Stay program. Fully vaccinated students and staff close contacts who are not experiencing any symptoms need not test to remain in school. 

We have been monitoring the situation in our schools everyday. This will continue. Our goal continues to be to maintain in-person instruction for as long as it is safe to do so. We will consider the availability of our staff and the presenting conditions of both our staff and students as we make future decisions. Pivoting to remote instruction for a short duration, while not desirable, is always a possibility. 

Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation. 

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

Archived Correspondence