A Message from Schenectady County Public Health Services regarding Birchwood Elementary School

As a follow-up to the March 17 announcement regarding Birchwood Elementary School, Schenectady County Public Health Services shared the following guidance with the district today (Wednesday, March 18). This message applies to Birchwood students and staff, as was indicated in the initial announcement. We continue to share this information with the greater community for broader awareness around the COVID-19 public health issue.

Subject: Important Message from Schenectady County Public Health Services

To Whom It May Concern:

You are receiving this communication from the Schenectady County Public Health Services (SCPHS) because you, or a member of your family, have been identified as a contact to a person who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, COVID- 19. This does not mean that you or your family member will get the coronavirus. This is just a precautionary measure. Testing for individuals without symptoms is not necessary. Should you, or your family member, come down with respiratory symptoms, please contact your primary care provider and notify the SCPHS Call Center, #518-386-2400.

In accordance with current public health law and guidance from the CDC and New York State Department of Health, Schenectady County Public Health Services is requiring you or your family member to remain at home in mandatory or precautionary quarantine until March 28th 2020. If the person placed on quarantine is a child and at an age where it is unrealistic and/or they are unable to maintain distancing from those in the household, SCPHS advises that one consistent caregiver place themselves on precautionary quarantine along with the child and follow the child and student guidelines below.


Quarantine is the practice of limiting movement of a person who is potentially exposed to an infectious disease for period of time to limit the potential for spread of the disease in the community.

What does this mean?

The individual should remain separate from the rest of their family in their own bedroom, with a bathroom to themselves. If sharing a bathroom, it must be cleaned after every use.

  • The individual should not have face to face contact with family members closer than 6 feet for a 14 day period
  • The individual should be closely monitored for symptoms such as a temperature above 100.5, cough, or other signs of feeling unwell. If such signs and symptoms occur, they should immediately contact their primary care provider and the SCPHS for guidance.
  • Other individuals residing in the home are not quarantined and can go about their daily business as usual
  • Staff from the SCPHS will be reaching out each day to check to ensure appropriate quarantine measures are being implemented. If you agree, and provide your cell phone number, you will be receiving texts from New York State Message and Monitoring System for this monitoring process. The text message reads:NYSMMS: Thank you for providing your mobile number. As was discussed when you talked with the county health department, NYSDOH would like to monitor you for illness. Do you agree to receive and respond to text messages from NYSMMS? Carrier charges may apply. (Please reply Y or N.)

What does this mean for students and staff who were exposed to a person who tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID 19):

  • All students and staff are being considered proximal contacts, which mean they need to be placed on precautionary quarantine. They do not need a health order requiring quarantine, however if they need paperwork for an employer that can be supplied. Follow up after their first call can be done by texting if they give permission, or by telephone call.
  • All students and staff are quarantined for 14 days from the last day they were at Birchwood Elementary School. For most people this date was 3/13. If they were at the school on 3/13, they are quarantined from 3/13-3/27 and can resume normal activities on the 28th.
  • As a general rule, one parent or guardian will need to be designated as the child’s caregiver. This person can have close (within 6 feet) contact with the quarantined child and they too must remain quarantined for the full 14 day period.
  • Other family members who are able to maintain six foot social distancing from the quarantined child (or children) can continue their normal daily activities.
    Quarantined family members should have a separate bathroom or, at a minimum, wipe down bathroom surfaces with Clorox/Lysol wipes or 1:10 bleach solution after use. (Solution of ½ cup 5.25% household bleach and 5 cups water can be put in spray bottle).
  • In special circumstances, with older children who can maintain six feet of social distancing from all other family members, it may be possible for both adults to continue their normal daily schedule (example essential employees who need to go to work). If this question comes up, please take down their contact information and tell them a clinical staff person will call to discuss further.

Additional information and resources can be found at:




We appreciate your cooperation on this. If you have any questions, please call 518-386-2824, option 4.


Lisa A. Ayers, RN, BSN
Public Health Director/Director of Prevention and Patient Services
Schenectady County Public Health Services