COVID Update — Aug. 13, 2021
I am writing today with our second weekly update regarding reopening as it relates to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. First and foremost, as the Delta variant impacts local case numbers, we hope that you and yours are safe and well. Please reach out if you need support or assistance. If you are not yet vaccinated and would like information on where vaccinations are being offered, we’d be happy to assist you in finding an opportunity for vaccination.
Last week, I mentioned what we knew at that point and that we will update you weekly. I would continue to encourage deep breaths and patience. Even in the past week, the landscape has shifted several times. You’ve been fantastic at staying calm and being thoughtful as we work through each detail and prepare to provide you with clarity each week. To keep us all on the same page, we’re going to keep each of these updates focused on what we know now, what we have since determined, and what is coming up. Again, we’re hoping this helps give you the information you need in a reasonable manner. So, to that end…
What we know now…
What we’ve decided since last week…
What’s coming up next…
We are reopening for all students, five days per week.
We will not be requiring the daily health screening attestation, but we will ask for families and staff to attest at the beginning of the school year. We will regularly remind the school community of what they should be looking for and the reasons to stay home.
We are in the process of working through each detail of the District’s reopening/safety plan. As we receive additional advice and guidance, we’re making adjustments. You can expect to see a full draft linked to next week’s email. The District Safety Committee, which includes parent, Board of Education and staff representatives, will be weighing in on draft plans.
We are not able to offer a remote option for this school year.
All athletic activities are still being planned as normal. We will consider mitigation strategies, but have no plan to reduce or eliminate teams or activities.
All performing arts activities are being planned as normal. We will consider additional mitigation strategies, but have no plan to reduce or eliminate groups, ensembles or activities.
We will be asking you what questions, comments or concerns you have based on the information we have provided and the draft plan. Look for a ThoughtExchange link in next week’s email.
We will require universal indoor masking for all students and staff, despite vaccination status.
We will provide transportation for all students and not limit bus capacity. We will follow the guidelines for municipal transportation including the mandating of masking for all riders.
We will be scheduling a community Zoom meeting to answer your questions, to share the exchange results, and to hear your feedback. Look for additional information in next week’s email.
We will provide as much distance as possible in all activities.
We will provide as much distance as possible for eating and use outdoor space at BHS. Students will be encouraged to have their masks off for a minimal amount of time and will be cohorted or grouped in a manner that ensures limited exposure and efficient contact tracing if needed.
We are not requiring COVID vaccinations for students or staff. Our staff is nearly 100% vaccinated.
We will allow students and staff to unmask outdoors if fully vaccinated (we will not ask for verification or require proof of vaccination).
We will be prepared to “go remote” and adjust our plans should circumstances require such a change.
As you may already be aware, the New York State Education Department issued new guidance for schools yesterday. It can be found here: Health and Safety Guide for the 2021-2022 School Year (nysed.gov). We have been working with the Monroe County Department of Public Health and vigorously reviewing the most recent CDC guidelines. Different than last year, all of the aforementioned groups are issuing guidance that can best be described as advice based on their knowledge and expertise. It is then up to each district to determine what is in the best health and safety interest of their students, staff, and school community. We are doing exactly that and will continue to solicit your feedback through the District Safety Committee, and in the Thoughtexchange and community meeting mentioned above.
Thank you all for your positivity, encouragement, and support. It’s going to be a great year and we can’t wait to safely have everyone back!
Kevin McGowan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools