Letter: Updates to COVID guidance, protocols 1/18January 18, 2022
Dear Oswego CSD Community,
I want to first thank you for your patience and staying with us as a whirlwind of information and guidance have been issued this past week by the state regarding COVID-19 protocols, mandates, contact tracing, quarantine guidance and more. We continue to consult around the clock internally and with local health officials to maintain the most accurate and up to date information district-wide.
Today I am sharing a series of updates that have been put in place by the New York State Department of Health that apply to all area districts impacting a number of areas and ultimately allowing students to be in-person for learning more often. Please review the following major protocol and guidance updates that impact OCSD:
New guidance from the state of New York makes it clear that individuals are now largely in charge of their own COVID-19 quarantines and contact tracing. Accordingly it appears that the state will rely largely on an “honor-like reporting system” instead of contract tracing.
In addition the state has also shared that local health departments and schools are no longer required to perform contact tracing (although they can continue to do so if they choose to do so when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19).
To add to this, the state has also shared when individuals test positive for COVID-19 they may still get a call from a public health worker to interview them about places they’ve been or people they’ve seen, but officials have also said individuals shouldn’t expect a call. Instead, people who test positive should call their close contacts and refer them to health department guidance on whether they are required to quarantine. This guidance is available on the Oswego County Health Department’s website, health.oswegocounty.com.
Given this new information, parents and/or guardians should know that moving forward, district health officials will still continue to track and work with individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Once we learn of a positive case, we will be sure to contact all parents or guardians of students who may have been a part of an exposure in writing and/or by phone.
New quarantine guidance allows for students ages 5-plus who have received the full recommended vaccine schedule regardless of booster status and are not displaying symptoms to continue to attend school in-person while quarantined outside of school.
Testing Positive for COVID-19
The new guidance says that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves while they recover. This isolation period should last at least five days from exposure, but depending on symptoms may require longer. It should be noted, that this is a change from previous isolation requirements which lasted between 10-14 days.
At-Home COVID-19 Tests
Recently, many individuals throughout the state have been taking at-home COVID-19 test. While reporting these results to the state is not required individuals, including parents and/or guardians are encouraged to do so to help statewide tracking and data. All Oswego County residents can report their results in moments by visiting the county’s online portal via the following URL: https://treasurerforms.oswegocounty.com/Forms/Report-Positive-COVID-Self-Tests.
Participation in Extracurricular – Booster Requirement
The state’s recent guidance also asserts that students who are vaccinated and eligible for boosters, but haven’t received a booster yet, are unable to participate for a total of 10 days in extracurricular activities (all athletics, chorus, instrumental music and after school clubs) at school if they’re exposed to someone with COVID-19.
To add to this, they must quarantine at home for five days, although they can still attend school for classes as the above new guidance states. It should be noted, this rule doesn’t apply to 5- to 11-year-olds since they’re not yet eligible for boosters.
Thank you for your time and attention on these important matters. I will be in touch as soon as possible should guidance be altered again. Those of you with questions or concerns about the above guidance should call the district’s COVID-19 hotline at 315-341-2050 for more information.
Yours In Education,
Mathis Calvin III, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools