Dear Carmel Community,
I hope that the last week of holiday break has been enjoyable for you and that you remain in good health.
Our administrative team has been closely monitoring the current COVID-19 status in the local community and any effects that it may have in our student attendance and staffing next week. At this time, our plan to welcome our students and staff back in person to our buildings on Monday, January 3, still remains.
As always, this current COVID-19 situation is ever-changing and should our plans need to change over the next few days, we will alert you as soon as possible.
As we prepare to return to our schools on Monday, parents/guardians, students and staff should be aware of the following updates that may have an impact on our plans:
Our Transportation Department has been closely monitoring staffing levels and creating alternate plans for transporting students should staffing levels become a concern in the next few days. Alternate plans may include requests for parents/guardians to transport some students or an option for centralized pick-up and drop-off locations. If any staffing shortages arise that may have a deeper impact than we have planned for, we will send additional details as soon as possible.
Test To Stay & Return from Isolation Protocols
Under current New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) school guidance, unvaccinated individuals who are close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19 should be excluded from school and quarantined for a period of 10 days. In addition, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days until symptoms are resolved without the use of pain-relieving drugs, and during high transmission, obtain a release from a doctor or the Department of Health.
The Putnam County Department of Health has been working to create a Test to Stay initiative plan that has begun being used in other local counties. At this time, a formalized plan has not been shared by the Department of Health. As soon as we have the most up-to date information, we will send it to all staff and parents.
New Quarantine Rules for Staff
On December 24, 2021, NYSDOH released a memo advising that school personnel who are vaccinated and test positive for COVID-19 can now return to work from isolation provided that the following are in place:
- The individual is fully vaccinated (g., completed 1 dose of Janssen or 2 doses of an mRNA vaccine at least 2 weeks before the day they become symptomatic or, if asymptomatic, the day of collection of the first positive specimen); and
- The individual is asymptomatic, or, if they have mild symptoms when they return to work, they must:
- Not have a fever for at least 72 hours without fever-reducing medication
- Have resolution of symptoms or, if still with residual symptoms, then all are improving
- Not have rhinorrhea (runny nose)
- Have no more than minimal, non-productive cough (i.e., not disruptive to work and does not stop the person from wearing their mask continuously, not coughing up phlegm)
- Be able to wear a well-fitting face mask consistently and correctly while at work. The mask should fit with no air gaps around the edges.
The NYSDOH may have changes to this guidance in the coming days. As soon as we have the most up-to date information, we will send it to all staff.
COVID-19 Home Tests from NY State
As you may have heard in the news, Governor Hochul has announced plans to provide school districts with free take-home COVID-19 test kits for families. Currently, we have no additional information on the expected arrival dates or distributions of these tests. We will be sure to update you as we receive more information from New York State.
Health & Safety Reminders
As a reminder, helping ensure our district stays healthy and safe starts at home. We need your help as our first line of defense in mitigating the effects of COVID-19 on our district. We ask that you please do not send your child(ren) to school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses. If your child(ren) is experiencing any symptoms, please consult your medical professional and get tested as soon as possible.
Please continue to stay safe and well during the remainder of the holiday break and we look forward to seeing you next week.
Superintendent of Schools