COVID Planning Update 12/20/21

December 20, 2021

Dear KLSD Community,

You are very likely aware that the weekend brought us more challenging COVID news. We learned of closings on Broadway, at sporting events, and the first news in some time of school districts shifting to remote instruction. This morning, during my weekly call with regional superintendents, Westchester County leadership, and Department of Health, we learned that the number of active cases in our county grew from more than 4,000 last Monday to more than 7,000 today. If you’ve been reading my nightly COVID updates, you’ve seen that our District has experienced its own increase. Between yesterday and today, we have learned of at least 17 new positive cases connected to our schools.

I want to assure you that our goal remains to stay open for in-person instruction for all students, while doing all we can to promote health and safety for all.  

To achieve this goal, it’s clear we must stay vigilant. And we must prepare for a variety of possibilities. We are taking the following steps immediately:

1. WC DOH Is not currently quarantining fully vaccinated students who are living with someone at home who is COVID positive. Our experience, however, suggests that these students frequently do develop COVID. As a result, we want to give families in this situation the option to quarantine their child (or children) and know that we will provide the same access to quarantine learning that we do for children who are required to quarantine following an exposure in school. To access this option, you will need to provide your school administrator evidence of the positive case at home. Keeping your child home in this situation is an option, not a requirement. If families choose this option, these students will not be able to participate in extra-curricular activities.

2. For the remainder of this week before the break, families may choose to keep your children home if you are concerned about COVID transmission. With such short notice, and without a required quarantine, we cannot switch our instructional model (so your child will not receive at-home instruction). If you let your school attendance office know that you are keeping your child home as a “COVID precaution,” your child will be given an excused absence and will be supported upon their return. If families choose this option, these students will not be able to participate in extra-curricular activities.

3. Because we do not know what the new year will bring, we must be best prepared for all possibilities. All students and staff will go home this week with the devices and materials necessary to operate in a fully remote model just in case it is necessary following the break. Again, our goal is to stay open and in-person. If it becomes necessary to go remote, due to staffing shortages, for example, the goal would be to return to in-person instruction as soon as possible.

You may have heard of Test to Stay, an option by which non-vaccinated children who are exposed at school can take a daily morning rapid test at school, and so long as the result is negative, can attend school that day (rather than quarantine). The CDC has recently endorsed this model. NYS DOH has previously discouraged it. Some districts in our region are attempting to implement the model, though it is proving challenging due to limited access to test kits and necessary staffing. Also, this model ONLY allows for access to classroom instruction, not to any extra-curricular activities. Students are still expected to quarantine at home outside the school day. KLSD is currently exploring whether we can implement this model following the break.

I encourage all our families and all my colleagues to continue exercising all recommended precautions. Wear masks, wash hands, get fully vaccinated (and boosted, if eligible) as soon as possible, stay home when symptomatic, and be thoughtful about gatherings. None of us want to go back to a fully-remote model. We know and want to maintain the value of the in-person school experience for all our students.

These past two years have been an enormous test of our individual perseverance, our collective community spirit, and our ability to make continual adjustments. We all wish it could have been different and we all hope for the fastest possible resolution. Thank you for your continuing partnership.

Be well,

Andrew Selesnick, Superintendent of Schools