February 19, 2021 Superintendent's Update
COVID, CDC Guidance, and Schools
February 19, 2021
Dear KLSD Community,
As you may be aware, last Friday the CDC issued new guidance for schools. Educators across the country and within our region have since been focused on the implications of this guidance for students, for staff, and for any new opportunities for in-person learning.
Notably, though last week’s guidance was new for the CDC, it is consistent with the guidance issued by New York State last summer.
While the new guidance acknowledges the benefits of in-person learning and the critical importance of schools remaining open (or newly opening, as schools in some parts of the country have remained closed since last March), it also underscores the importance of key mitigation strategies necessary to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 both in schools and in communities. Universal mask wearing and physical distancing (still recommended to be 6-feet as often as possible) remain priorities.
As has been true since September, it is the 6-foot guidance that prevents us from being able to bring all students to school every day and that creates some differences among local districts. The hybrid learning model in KLSD has evolved throughout the school year, as have models in neighboring districts, based on prioritization of certain learning needs, staffing, and square footage available within our school buildings and classrooms. I confer regularly with my superintendent colleagues in the region. We are all striving toward the same goal: to maximize our capacity to bring as many students to school as safely as possible.
Where the new CDC guidance offers some hope for change is in a more nuanced approach to applying mitigation strategies (such as 6-feet of physical distancing) in concert with the level of local community transmission. School officials are working with health officials to understand the level of local community transmission, and I am in the process of determining whether transmission in our community allows for adjustments to our current mitigation strategies.
The availability of vaccinations is also a source of hope. Westchester County has indicated that it is prioritizing efforts for school districts. We continue seeking every opportunity for all our school employees to be vaccinated. Many have already received at least their first dose.
It is my hope that as the conditions above are assessed and addressed, we will be able to bring more students back into school, more frequently, before the end of this school year. We are preparing for the implementation of screening testing for students and staff, with the hope that it will advance this goal. If we’re able to move in this direction, we will soon need to know how many students to expect in-person if and when we’re able to adjust the mitigation strategies noted above.
In the coming days, I plan to engage staff and community in discussion of these issues. The partnership of our entire community allowed us to re-open schools in September. It has kept our community and our schools as safe as possible since then. We want to bring all students back to school as soon as possible. We also want them, our staff, and our community to remain safe and healthy. Please look for more communication and invitations for input in the coming days.
Until then, please be well.
Andrew Selesnick, Superintendent of Schools