As the South Colonie Central School District Medical Director, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the “New Normals” that will be part of the methods which are putting into place to protect your children, as well as the staff and faculty members of the district. Most of these protocols are the product of national and international guidelines, but also based upon mandated protocols and requirements of governmental agencies that oversee the health of our population in general in New York State.
As with many things during this pandemic, there are many changing recommendations telling us what to do and how to do it, and we are learning as we go along. This changing environment creates an apprehension regarding all of our personal well-being. For this reason, as we return to school, during the initial period, we are electing to be extra cautious and very conservative.
With time, as this infectious agent shows us how it behaves, we may be able to reexamine and reassess the levels of caution and our protocols, but for now, we will all be inconvenienced and have to make special efforts to comply. It is likely that certain things will be permanent and change the way education at all levels is achieved throughout the nation and the world, but for now, we will take one step at a time.
There are certain health policies which you should know about that reflect this unwavering commitment to be as safe as possible.
- Anyone utilizing the properties of the district, students, staff, and visitors, will be required to wear a face mask. The dress code will address what a “face covering” will be for the 2020-21 school year. Face coverings which do not provide protection to an adequate degree for others will not be allowed. There will be no exceptions except in certain special education classes where the classes will be segregated, and special precautions taken for students and staff. The inability to wear a mask at this time will require remote education regardless of medical circumstances. Face shields alone will not be acceptable for students or staff.
- Any student exhibiting signs or symptoms which fit the pattern of Covid-19 and have been referenced by the New York State Department of Health guidelines will be removed immediately from any educational activity and brought to an isolation area. No diagnostic activities will be performed in the school setting and the nurses will not be allowed to distinguish Covid-19 from other medical possibilities in spite of any physician recommendation. If your child has any symptoms in the morning which might be considered part of the Covid-19 guidelines, please do not allow them to come to school. Based upon New York State requirements, these students will be removed from the campus. Responsible parties will be contacted and expected to remove the student immediately. Those parents or guardians who have commitments resulting in conflicts with this, will be responsible to provide an alternative contact to the health office in advance. Based upon current state requirements, the student will not be able to return to school without being evaluated by a private healthcare practitioner who will fill out a form to be provided upon picking up the student. At the present time, New York State is REQUIRING a Covid-19 test which is negative prior to returning to school. This may change prior to or after school is started, but if not, this will
be the requirement.
- Compliance with the requirements of protective actions to start the 2020-21 school year will be mandatory. Disciplinary actions for any student or staff member who is resistant, fails to comply, or repeatedly attempts to skirt the protocols of the district will be taken. It is a discussion which may be worth pursuing with your child, prior to the school year, to avoid any undesirable outcomes.
- There are numerous protocols that have been developed covering various situations and dealing with appropriate social actions, such as social distancing in any environment. This letter can not address all of these issues, from transportation, temperature taking and daily monitoring, tracking, social distancing, extracurricular and special activities, and many more topics, but these and other topics have been carefully explored based upon New York State guidance. I can assure you that the people who will be educating your children, including numerous teacher-parents, share your concerns and have been working diligently to make this process as safe as possible.
- The South Colonie Central School District has been working to develop a program of excellence to educate remotely. I anticipate this pandemic will lead to many changes, which will hopefully build upon the traditions in education with bold and new innovations.
Thank you in advance for your support of the hard working school district members and whether you chose to educate your child in school or at home, it is our goal to provide the best education possible to help our young people achieve and succeed in pursuing their future plans. This pandemic has been a major life experience. We hope it becomes merely a footnote in a healthy long life.
Warren Silverman MD FACOEM