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Letter 10.16: Families should have backup plan in case illnesses prompt switch to fully remote

Oct. 16, 2020

Dear Oswego City School District Community,

As we are now in the fall season and approaching winter, the district has continued to work on ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff since our reopening. While doing so, we have been working diligently to implement our reopening plan with integrity and to follow through with the evolving guidance and/or regulations received from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

Late last week, I shared the latest NYSDOH toolkit with all of you. This toolkit is one of multiple guidance documents that we’ve received that illustrates the many changes to medical information and/or guidance that we are learning about.

As a result of the current pandemic we are facing, I am writing to share that the district has been experiencing several concerns. They are as follows:

  • COVID-19 Exposures – Since our reopening we have notified the community about the multiple exposures that we have experienced thus far.
  • Staffing Shortages – On a weekly basis, the district is seeing a high number of staff who are out because they are either presenting with a COVID-19-related symptom or have been placed into a precautionary quarantine by the New York State Department of Health.
  • Students Quarantined – We also continue to have a high number of students who are being placed into quarantine because they are presenting with a COVID-19 related symptom or have been placed into quarantine by our local health department.

Given our concerns about future potential exposures, the high numbers of staff and student quarantining, and the fact that we are now entering into the winter flu season, the district may have to make some programming changes, going forward.

Specifically, should we experience even higher levels of exposure or an increase in staffing or student absences, please know that the district will have no choice but to reconsider our “in-person” programming. This is because, if any of the concerns above continue to worsen, we will be unable to maintain the appropriate staffing levels needed to operate our programs safely and effectively.

If this should occur, please note that the district will employ its emergency model of full-time online instruction for all students as explained in our reopening plan (page 14 – Preparing for Future Shutdown section) for however long we might need to.

Q: How and when will the emergency shutdown be reported to families?

A: Should the district need to employ its emergency shutdown plan parents, guardians and staff will be notified by phone, by email or text message (via the district’s mass communication system) and through the local media.

Q: Can this change occur on a moment's notice? Should families be prepared to be in school one day and out of school the next?

A: The district fully understands the need that parents or guardians might encounter with respect to securing child care. Accordingly, we will do everything possible to provide as much prior notice to the community. As always, parents and guardians should prepare a backup plan in case of a school closure. To add to this, due to the nature of this pandemic, parents are also encouraged to secure a childcare plan in case students need to be sent home early from school due to any type of pandemic-related emergency or illness.

Q: Are there any other strategies that community members could employ to assist with this concern?

A: Yes. The district is requesting that all community members continue to employ the following methods to assist us with ensuring the health and safety of our entire community: When coming to school wear a cloth face covering, wash hands often for 20 seconds or more, use hand sanitizer, socially distance by staying six feet apart from others, clean frequently touched objects, do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth, cover coughs and sneezes and stay home if you are sick or are demonstrating any of the COVID-19-related symptoms that include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

With that said, please know the district is committed to doing everything possible to prevent enacting this emergency model. As we move forward, I will continue to provide health and safety updates to our community, whenever possible. Should any of you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your school principal, or to the district’s COVID-19 Hotline at 315-341-2050. Thank you for your time and consideration of this information.

Yours in Education,

Mathis Calvin III, Ed. D.

Superintendent of Schools 

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