From: Ryan Pacatte
Date: September 10, 2021
Re: Community Update

Opening of the 2020-2021 School Year

It is great to have students and staff back in at full capacity right at the beginning of the year.  It was a great first week.  

We wish to thank Becky Gross and the Transportation Department for efficiently identifying trouble spots in order to make the bus runs operate more smoothly.  There tend to be challenges on the first day of school, but Becky’s commitment to getting things squared away quickly really helped this week.

I also want to thank Rob Lupisella and the entire Elementary School for their handling of the challenges this week.  In regular years, at least 20% of the students in our Elementary School are brand new.  These young ones have no experience with riding a bus or navigating the building.  With UPK this year, the number is closer to 25% of the students being new to the building.  Further, Mr. Lupisella made multiple adjustments to the schedule in order to accommodate the lunches due to the high number of bees.  The hard work and flexibility helped to provide a strong start, in spite of the challenges.

Lastly, we appreciate the support of families.  Your preparation at home, your patience at the bus stops, and your persistence through the challenges consistently gives us the space we need to create corrections to systems as we open.  Thank you for your cooperation.     

COVID Updates

Additional requirements regarding required COVID testing were communicated late last week.  Although the message received was labeled ‘Effective Immediately,’ it is broadly known that ‘The Field’ (schools and local health departments) will need time to implement these expectations.  This is consistent with events of the past related to COVID.  Headlines are made, eventually information is shared, and this is then followed by efforts to clarify the expectations before taking informed action.  Once again, additional clarification is needed, and there will most definitely be supply chain issues when 700 school districts begin ordering more tests.  However, please know that we have started the initial planning and will communicate additional specifics at a later time.

Efforts are being made to clarify this new information, but here is a brief overview of the communication received:

Testing Requirements:

  1. Screening Testing (Ongoing and regular testing of seemingly healthy individuals):

    1. Staff COVID Screening Testing: P-12 schools are required to ensure teachers and staff have testing performed for COVID-19 at least once per week when a school is in a geographic area identified by the CDC as having low, moderate, substantial, or high transmission rates.  Teachers and staff may be permitted to opt-out of mandatory weekly screening testing if they provide documentation of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as set forth in 10 NYCRR 2.62.  Teachers and staff who work at multiple schools do not need to receive multiple tests; they may use one weekly test result to demonstrate to any number of schools where they work that they have fulfilled this requirement.

    2. Student COVID Screening Testing: P-12 schools are required to offer screening testing on a weekly basis for students, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, unless the school is a low transmission zone according to the CDC.  The requirement is that the testing is made available.  Students are not required to participate in the screening testing.

Note: The screening testing is a new requirement and it is a large undertaking.

  1. Diagnostic Testing (Response testing when an individual may be demonstrating symptoms consistent with COVID or may have been exposed to someone with COVID):

    1. In addition to access to COVID testing provided through community testing sites (primary healthcare providers, drug stores, medical clinics, etc) schools must have the capacity (either directly on-site or via referral) to provide diagnostic testing, for any students, teachers, or staff, who regardless of vaccination status and community level of transmission per the CDC, are:

      1. Symptomatic; or

      2. Asymptomatic following exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Note: This type of testing was available last year.  This is not new.

  1. Exceptions: (Exceptions to the testing requirement set forth above include)

    1. Individuals with symptoms that are attributable to pre-existing medical conditions (e.g., migraines, allergies that have been identified by primary care providers) and are not new, worsening, and/or do not require school exclusion; 

    2. If the health care provider provides a diagnosis of a known chronic condition with unchanged symptoms, or a confirmed acute illness (examples: laboratory-confirmed influenza, strep-throat) AND COVID-19 is not suspected, then a note signed by their health care provider explaining the alternate diagnosis is required before a student, teacher, or staff member may be allowed to return to school.  Such individuals may return to school according to the usual guidelines for that diagnosis.

  1. Vaccination Status: In order to properly administer these expectations, we will need to know the vaccination status of faculty, staff, and students.  As it relates to students, our school nurses are currently able to verify the vaccination status of students.  While this information is not factored into whether or not a student or family can choose to participate in the screening testing, it will be factored into contact tracing and may impact quarantines and isolations.   For example, a vaccinated student who is not displaying symptoms will not need to quarantine at this time. 

As mentioned before, additional clarification is needed and we are seeking that information now.  We will share additional details when they are finalized.  

Case Information:

The table shows local case data from August 6th-September 9th.  The orange line displays the cases in the Avon community.  The table in the upper left hand corner displays cases at the school.  New this year is the tally of currently active cases.  These are known cases on a particular day (9/9/21).