To the Niskayuna Central School District Family,
I hope that you had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving Recess. As our state and nation continue to experience a rise in cases of COVID-19, I am reaching out today to ask for your continued partnership in the effort to keep our schools open and to promote health and safety throughout the district. In fact, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his press conference on Monday that the precautions schools have put into place to control the spread of the virus have been “highly effective.”
Our overarching goal is to make sure this continues to be the case – and we keep our schools open for in-person instruction. We all need to work together to make this happen.
One element of the state’s strategy to combat COVID-19 has been the Micro-Cluster Initiative. This is a system of designating certain areas as a Yellow, Orange or Red zone based on the prevalence of COVID-19. These zones come with certain restrictions and protocols designed to limit the spread of the virus, including school-based COVID testing.
While our area is not currently within one of these zones, it appears possible based on current trends that it could be in the coming days. Part of our message to you today is that we are proactively preparing for this, including establishing plans for testing students and staff members.
State guidelines require schools who are in one of these zones to test a designated percentage of all students and staff over a given time period. Depending on how the results compare with the overall population, schools could be able to stay open for in-person instruction. In the event our area becomes a designated zone, our goal will be to keep schools open. We have started to plan for the testing that this will require.
We are working closely with Capital Region BOCES and our public health partners to arrange for tests and to establish protocols for tracking and reporting results.
In the near future, we expect to send a consent form with complete details of testing to all families so that we are prepared in the event of a zone designation. When you receive the consent form, please complete it as soon as possible to assist in the effort to keep our schools open.
Continued Precautions and Vigilance
As public health officials warn of a continued increase in COVID-19 cases, we urge you to take the necessary precautions to promote health and safety in our schools and community. These include:
- Practicing mask-wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing.
- Adhering to guidelines related to gathering sizes. (In his press conference on Monday, Gov. Cuomo said that 65% of recent cases have been attributable to small gatherings.)
- Observing updated regulations regarding travel to any state that does not border New York which result in quarantining and/or testing requirements.
- Staying home when you are not feeling well and keep children home from school when they are displaying symptoms.
As noted above, our overarching goal is to keep our schools open for in-person instruction by taking all of the necessary health and safety measures. This promises to be a challenging winter, but if the patience, partnership and flexibility we have seen in the last few months are any indication, our community will rise to this challenge together.
Thank you for your attention to this information and your ongoing support.
Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools