District Updates (Contract Tracing and more!) 1/19/2022
January 19, 2022
I hope this finds you well and enjoying the start to an amazing new year. 2022 certainly came in like a tornado, but we are absolutely starting to see a return to a much needed equilibrium. It is refreshing and while certain protocols will remain for now, as we weather what is hopefully a turning point, we are definitely looking forward to a return to our typical and traditional approaches, policies, and practices. We are working every day to lead and facilitate teaching and learning that fosters engagement, joy, and wonder for your children. I thank our building and district leaders, nurses, teachers, and entire support staff for their tireless efforts to bring us closer to this reality.
As cases within Westchester County decrease, I write to you today to share several shifts in our practices and protocols:
- Welcoming You Back- Research is clear that when the partnerships between the home and school are strong, student achievement is strengthened. Together with our principals, we are actively planning for a series of school-based activities that will reunite our families with our schools. We have missed you and are anxious to bring you back to share and celebrate with you all that is special about teaching and learning in Mt. Pleasant. Some will be new opportunities and others will be a continuation of our existing traditions. That said, please stay tuned for more information from your child’s principal(s).
- Lunch Protocols- As promised, as cases decreased, our lunch protocols would also return to what once was. Effective tomorrow, Thursday, January 20, 2022, all students will return to eating lunch in the cafeterias at all four schools. We thank you for your patience and will continue monitoring conditions.
- Contact Tracing- We have received confirmation from the New York State Department of Health, Westchester County Department of Health, and the New York State Education Department that schools are not required to do contact tracing. However, we are required to have a system or a plan in place to identify affected students and notify parent/guardians of possible COVID exposures that have occurred in the school setting. The Mount Pleasant Schools will no longer contact trace and send information to the Department of Health.
- Covid Notifications- The District will send general notifications when there is a confirmed case of Covid in your child’s school each day. This may include information about cases on a grade level, team, or lunch period and will emulate the other general notifications that we currently utilize for all other school based communicable illnesses. Weekly Updates will continue to be made on our website and information can still be obtained at the NYS Department of Health Website.
- Testing- Testing will be widely available to our students. Our goal is to enable families to monitor their child for any symptoms and make informed decisions about testing protocols, isolations, and quarantines. In certain cases, your child’s building leader will speak with you directly if they believe that Test to Stay is warranted. We have an ample number of rapid tests available and our community is welcome to utilize them via our Test to Stay program. Our Test to Stay Protocols can be found on our website. Testing is available under the following conditions and with prior registration.
- Any asymptomatic unvaccinated or vaccinated student who has been directly exposed to a person with Covid-19 outside of their home.
- Any asymptomatic unvaccinated or vaccinated student who believes that they may have been exposed to a person with Covid-19 outside of their home.
- Please note that we will be making test kits available to all students and staff prior to the February Break. It will be a voluntary program and we will communicate more information as we get closer to the date.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that in collaboration with the Valhalla Schools, the Mount Pleasant Schools will host a Legislative Gathering on Thursday evening, February 10, 2022. More details are forthcoming, but please hold the date. While we will host an in-person watch party, the format, as directed by The League of Women Voters, will be virtual and questions may be submitted from anyone in the community. This is a unique opportunity to engage with many of our elected officials at the State, County, and local levels on a wide range of school based topics including, but not limited to: school funding, Covid related issues, unfunded mandates, general student health, mental health and wellness, instructional matters, extracurriculars, and Foundation Aid. I look forward to seeing you there.
Our advocacy on behalf of our students will continue and we look forward to a full return to our regular set of practices, policies and procedures in the upcoming weeks and months. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating- it is the strength of our partnerships and relationships that will carry us forward.
Please stay well and remember to always be #WildcatStrong!
With best regards,
Dr. Peter Giarrizzo
Superintendent of Schools