As coronavirus cases continue to rise in Albany County, we wanted to provide our families with some information on how that could potentially affect our district in the coming weeks, based on the most recent guidance.
Governor Cuomo has detailed a COVID-19 micro-cluster strategy that focuses on geographic zones or communities. Depending on a number of factors, including infection rate, a community can be designated as a “yellow,” “orange” or “red” zone. For each designation, communities and school districts within the zone would be required to take certain actions.
While our school community has done a remarkable job maintaining a healthy and safe environment, the infection rate continues to climb in surrounding areas. Although we are not currently in a designated zone, we want to be prepared to take the necessary actions if need be.
Please know that our main goal is to safely remain open for the in-person instruction, meal service, social connection, and emotional connection that our students need.
Right now, we need your help to reach this goal in three specific ways:
- Please continue to limit travel and gatherings.
- Keep your distance and wear face coverings at all times outside your home—particularly if children are playing together in the neighborhood
- Review the NYS requirements for COVID Cluster Zones, and consider giving your consent for school-based COVID-19 testing if Cohoes is part of a designated “zone” in the near future. A consent form will be made available in ParentSquare.
How will we know if the district is in a designated yellow, orange or red micro-cluster zone?
If the district is placed into a micro-cluster zone by the New York State Department of Health, the district will use existing internal and external communications channels to notify staff, students and families/caregivers with as much advance notice as possible. These channels will include ParentSquare (text and email) and our website, cohoes.org.
What happens if our district is placed in a yellow zone?
Although schools can remain open if they are in a “yellow zone,” there is a mandatory testing requirement to keep schools open. The current guidance requires 20% of the in-person population to be tested over the two-week period immediately following the announcement of a yellow zone designation.
If after the first two weeks:
- The results of testing reveal that the positivity rate among the 20% tested is lower than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, the school can stop testing.
- The results of testing reveal that the positivity rate among the 20% tested is higher than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, the school will be required to continue testing 20% of in-person students, teachers and staff every two weeks, until it is lower than the surrounding areas.
What happens if our district is in an “orange” or “red” zone?
Schools located in orange or red micro-cluster zones will be required to conduct weekly testing. Schools in orange zones will be required to test 20% of in person students, faculty, and staff over the course of a month and schools in red zones will be required to test 30% of in person students, faculty, and staff over a month.
Will the district ask for parent consent before administering COVID tests?
Yes, the district will be sharing a consent form through ParentSquare to allow students to be tested in school. Families will be notified before their child is tested.
What if parents do not give consent for testing?
Although we hope to have consent from all families, it is not a requirement. If you have not given us your permission, your child will not be tested.
Can parents be present when their child is tested?
Because our schools are not allowing visitors in our buildings due to safety concerns, parents will not be able to be present for testing.
How will students be selected for testing?
Students will be selected through a randomized process.
What kind of COVID-19 test will be used?
The district will use the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card. This is a rapid test that provides results in about 15 minutes. The test will be administered by our school nurses. It involves inserting a small swab, similar to a Q-Tip, into the front of the nose and then swabbing around the nostrils. Please be assured that this is NOT the test that involves the long nasal swab. This is a quick, shallow swabbing of the nostrils. One of the first things we’ll do when we receive the tests is record a video demonstration so our families can see exactly how it’s administered.
Please note that the tests will be used for screening purposes only. Students or staff who may be showing symptoms should contact their healthcare provider to arrange for testing.
What happens if a test comes back positive?
Parents will be contacted and any students who test positive will be sent home and must be kept at home until meeting Albany County Department of Public Health criteria to return to school. Please contact your child’s doctor immediately to review the test results should your child test positive for COVID-19.
Will remote teachers or students be required to be tested?
No, remote teachers or students are currently excluded from having to be tested since they are not conducting or receiving in-person instruction in the building.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to your building principal or nurse.