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Letter: COVID test kits; Updates on test to stay, quarantine

Jan. 3, 2022
Dear Oswego CSD Learning Community,
I am writing to share information with you on several changes that are occurring and will impact our entire learning community. Several of these changes have been discussed and shared in the media by Gov. Hochul and/or local department of health officials. They are as follows:
COVID-19 - Home Test Kits – Distribution drive-thru 1/5
NYS Governor Kathy Hochul, recently informed superintendents that the state is sending COVID-19 rapid test kits to all school districts to distribute to their families. These tests may be administered by families as soon as they receive them to help prevent COVID-positive asymptomatic individuals from returning to school.
Earlier today, our district received its allocation of these tests. We plan to distribute them to families through a parent drive-thru/pick-up Wednesday, Jan. 5 from 3:30-6 p.m. in the high school’s Liberty Street parking lot. Should a parent be unable to attend, please contact your school’s main office beginning Thursday to arrange a pick-up time over the next week. The district is unable to send any tests home with students or through delivery at this time, so parents must pick up the test themselves.
COVID-19 Home Tests – What to do if test is positive?
The Oswego County DOH is working on updating their website to allow people to report positive home test results. We have been advised that this site will likely include a warning indicating that antigen tests can be false positive and a recommendation that before submitting positive test results that you get a confirmation PCR test from their physician, pharmacy, or urgent care; especially if you do not have symptoms or have not had an exposure to COVID. The district will provide more information on our website once we receive it from the Department of Health.
COVID-19 “Test to Stay” – Updated information
Recently the CDC and the NYS Department of Health shared information through the media which asserts that they are now in support of “Test to Stay” programs in school. These programs allow asymptomatic unvaccinated school-based close contacts (e.g., students, teachers, school staff) to avoid school exclusion (but not other restrictions of quarantine) by testing negative through serial testing using rapid COVID Test (NAAT or an antigen tests) during a seven-day period following exposure.
Accordingly, “Test to Stay” programs allow students who were in close contact with someone who tested positive to take a rapid COVID-19 test over several days at school before entering the classroom. If they test negative and continue to be asymptomatic they can stay at school.

It should be noted, for this type of program to be put into place, local health department’s must be in support and have the capacity to sustain them in all the school district’s they provide support to. Until officially approved by the Oswego County Health Department along with the appropriate guidance, the district is unable to offer this “Test to Stay” program and will continue to utilize the current procedures for quarantine that have been in place. At this time, the Oswego City School District continues to work alongside the health department to make this option a reality and is hopeful to have something official in place by mid-January.

Vaccination Clinics & Opportunities –
As we continue to work through the pandemic, the district is continuing to collaborate with local health officials on vaccination opportunities that are being offered throughout our community.

Accordingly, the following is a list of Oswego County Department of Health vaccination clinic opportunities that are now being offered to parents and/or guardians and their children:  
COVID-19 - Shorter Quarantine for Oswego CSD Faculty and Staff
Recently, the CDC and NYSDOH released information which indicates that they will allow critical workforce (which includes school district faculty and staff) to work after day five of their isolation period (where day zero is defined as either date of symptom onset if symptomatic, or date of collection of first positive test if asymptomatic) if they meet certain criteria.
In response to this information, the district is currently reviewing guidance on this new program and collaborating with local health officials on how and when we might implement this shorter quarantine period. Once we have more information to share, we will inform our staff and learning community. In the meantime, we will continue to use the previous protocols which have been established and utilized.
COVID-19 High Positivity - Infection Rate 
Recently the Oswego County Health Department shared with the media that throughout the last week the county has experienced an extremely high COVID-19 positivity rate (between 26-27% infection rate of several days). Given this concern, it is unclear as to what January will look like for the district in terms of our COVID-19 positivity rate. 
With that said, it is important to note that the district will do all that it can to keep our schools open for “in-person” learning.  However, I am recommending the following:
  • Families – All families are encouraged to have a backup plan in place should the district and/or a school building must pivot to our emergency preparedness plan which involves remote learning for a period of time.
  • Faculty and staff – We are requesting that all staff be prepared should the district and/or a building must switch temporarily to remote learning.
NYS January 2022 Regents
Recently the NYSED Commissioner, Dr. Betta Rosa announced that the High School Regents Examinations will be canceled this January, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, through Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, will now be regular instructional days for all high school students. No decisions have been made yet regarding the June and August 2022 Regents Examinations.

Stay Home When Sick and Get Tested
As we reopen the district for “in-person” learning we are requesting that all parents and/or guardians monitor their child’s health each day. Should your child(ren) experience any of the following COVID-19 symptoms, we ask that you keep them home and have them tested for COVID-19 (note, this applies to vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals):
Fever or Chills (100° F or more) Shortness of breath/trouble breathing
Cough Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Loss of taste or smell Muscle pain or body aches
Fatigue/feeling of tiredness Headaches
Sore throat Nasal congestion/runny nose

To add to this, please be advised:
  • If your child tests positive for COVID-19 and/or demonstrates any of the symptoms listed above, we request that you keep them home and inform your school nurse and/or our district COVID-19 hotline at 315-341-2055; and
  • If a member of your household tests positive for COVID-19, all unvaccinated household children and vaccinated household children who are demonstrating COVID-19 symptoms should also be kept home until contacted by the health department. We request that parents and/or guardians should also contact their school nurse and/or our COVID-19 hotline to share this information.
With that said, I wish to thank you all for your continued support of our school district and programs. Please know that I will continue to provide updates as we continue to move the district forward throughout this pandemic.
Yours In Education,
Mathis Calvin III, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
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