2/27/22 Update on Masking & Global Events

Dear Wildcats,

I hope that you all had terrific and restful breaks.  My family and I spent time in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks and had an incredible time exploring the outdoors, some winter sports and a much slower pace in general. I hope that the time away provided you with similar opportunities to reset and recharge. 

I’m looking forward to welcoming our students and staff  back and wanted to update you on a few important things as we prepare for our return to school tomorrow. With this return to school, we turn our attention to Spring, the development of a new strategic plan, and an important Field Bond referendum on March 29, 2022.

As I welcome you back, I ask you to read the following. It is long, but contains important information about our existing and upcoming protocols.

Ukrainian Crisis

We have all witnessed the series of events that have unfolded over the past week in Ukraine. For those of you who have family, friends, or loved ones in the region, you have my unwavering support and concern. Please let us know if you need support.

As students return tomorrow, some will be personally impacted, others will have questions, and yet others may not know that the crisis exists. Our teachers will be prepared to address any student questions in developmentally appropriate ways that are reflective and supportive. Please reach out to your child’s principal if your family is in need of support in any way. 

COVID-19 Rapid Tests

Before the break we distributed home test kits for voluntary use by our students and staff. Please administer the test tonight or tomorrow morning to your child.

  • Asymptomatic students and staff who test negative do not need to share the results of their tests with us and may return to work and school tomorrow.

  • Students/staff who test positive, should notify their school nurse via email and stay home while following the existing five-day isolation protocol.  Those who have tested positive and recovered from Covid-19 within the last 90 days should not take the test due to the possibility of receiving a false positive result.

  • Additional test kits will be made available this week and into the future for those who want them.

Universal Masking Mandate

Please click to see the letter sent to Governor Hochul requesting that the current mask mandate expire on February 21, 2022. The Board and I drafted the letter together before the break and we have not received a response. That said, there have been significant developments over the weekend.

  • On Friday, February 25, 2022, The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shared new guidelines about masking requirements and the metrics utilized to determine the community levels of Covid-19 by county. You may find these data here. Specifically, for all counties that fall within the “low” Covid-19 County Community Level, the CDC now recommends optional and not mandatory use of masks community wide, including schools and on buses. Westchester County’s Community Level is rated as low.

Please note that these recommendations were not binding and the decision about the continuation of the mask mandate rested with Governor Hochul and the Department of Health. That said, we learned this afternoon that the Commissioner of Health has determined that the current universal mask mandate in schools has been modified and will expire, effective Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

In light of this, please note that mask wearing for all students and staff will be optional, beginning on Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

We will be receiving guidance documents from NYSED, likely tomorrow.  Thus, the delay in implementation provides us with time to evaluate and implement the changes. While masks on buses and classrooms are no longer recommended by the CDC, we will ask that they continue to be utilized tomorrow and Tuesday and in accordance with the Governor’s directive.  This time provides our faculty, administration and staff to work with students in a thoughtful way towards a respectful recalibration of our norms within a community setting. It is important work for us to do over these next 48 hours. Parents may also want to spend time talking with their children about this and preparing them for this to happen on Wednesday. Please contact your child’s teacher with any questions. 

Schools and classrooms must be safe, nurturing places for our students and staff. For some of you this change is not soon enough and for others it is too soon.  The District will respect the choices that families and staff will choose to follow. Our faculty and staff know that it is important to monitor for any student-student pressure, bullying, or interactions based on whether or not a student is wearing a mask. Like all other circumstances, no student is to be ridiculed, taunted, or mistreated by peers for any reason.

Lastly, congratulations and good luck to our Varsity Girls Basketball team, who have reached the Semifinal of the Section 1 Basketball Championship Tournament.

Stay well, welcome back!!

Regards,

Dr. Peter Giarrizzo

Superintendent of Schools