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Questions & Answers from November 30, 2021



November 30, 2021- Continued from November 15, 2021


Student Absences Followed up

162. What is the margin of error for the daily case/quarantine numbers given that student absences are not followed up with mandatory testing?

Nurses try to follow-up with students out more than one day. Nursing staff and teachers monitor student attendance. The District does depend on parents to report absences. Students who fail the Attestation App – goes to principal and health services who follow up with student and parents.

Get more children vaccinated

163. How do we get more middle school families to buy in to the vaccination process? 58% is abysmal.

We have sponsored clinics, will continue to partner with Village Apothecary and County. We can offer additional vaccine clinic on weekends if people will take advantage of them. We are open to suggestions. 

Chromebooks Home

164. Self-contained class is not allowed to take Chromebooks home. Missed services for a week

We will follow up with Building Principals. Please reach out as a parent to your child’s teacher and Principal directly.  the teacher. Our administration has been clear in communicating this expectation.

Will County or State contact me

165. My student tested positive for COVID. I was told by both the state health department, our doctor and school nurse that we had to provide the release letter from the state in order for our student to come back to school. Is that the case?

You will get an Isolation order from the State, then the Isolation release should come from either the State or the from the County if they were quarantined from exposure but did not positive. Negative PCR tests will allow positive people back in school. What you need to return to school depends on if you/ the student have/ has tested positive or if isolating- these are 2 different things. It depends on if the State or County contacts you – the same agency will release you

Mask mandate

166. How long will the kids wear the masks?

There is still a mandate from NYS that all individuals in school building must wear a mask. It is also still a CDC requirement as one of the mitigation strategies that has been proven to contain the spread of the disease.

Vaccination Rate

167.We were given the vaccination rates for students, but what is it for staff?

Will work with medical director to see what we can disclose with privacy issue. There is a mandate in State that requires any staff not vaccinated to be tested weekly. (including bus drivers & contracted bus drivers) Any vaccinated staff can choose to be tested as well. Some staff test on their own time and bring their test results to our nursing staff weekly.

Data for District Positives

168. Please remind me how the data is obtained for the district positives vs NYS report card there seems to be a significant difference and delay between 2 it can’t all be home schooled children, thank you

Each day a report is put together using parents’ reporting and the daily county reports we receive. Then this consolidated report is sent to Central Office to be put on the State Dash Board reporting. We sometimes receive the County report on a delayed basis. This may cause a timing issue on when the numbers are actually reported.

Open windows and HEPA machines

169. Since COVID is airborne beyond the 3-6 feet social distancing, and aerosols can linger for hours in the air in a poorly ventilated room, I would like to ask about fresh air. 
What are the school guidelines provided to teachers now and how is that enforced?
- It’s important that at least two windows open to create cross draft.
- Are HEPA machines on the highest setting at all times ?
Is anyone checking each day that each classroom is maintaining these essentials for fresh air?

Teachers are informed that every day windows should be open and HEPA machines running. At the Middle School/ High School, it is the teachers who are responsible – due to the building size. At the elementary schools, it is our in MS and HS, Building and Grounds staff that monitor this in the  elementary school classrooms

Chromebooks Home

170. All schools need to get on the same page with the chrome books.  My children were told to keep Chromebooks and chargers in school.  They are not being brought home each day

We will communicate with our principals and ask them to remind staff. If your child has not brought their Chromebook home, and they need it, please contact your child’s principal and arrangements can be made to either pick the Chromebook up, or for a staff member to deliver it.

Chromebooks Home

171. The note sent home with my 2nd grader before the holiday was the chrome book was to go back to school after the break unless we were told otherwise. He’s never taken it home before.

See answer to #170. If your child is not bringing it home every day, check with your child’s teacher or building principal

Use Facilities

172. Hi everyone.  I am speaking on behalf of the board of the local AYSO soccer program for 8-12 year olds.  We would very much appreciate the use of the school facilities for after school indoor soccer.  The program would follow all required protocols.  Neighboring towns are having indoor programs and our students will likely go to these other towns if we are unable to offer a winter program.  It would be beneficial to keep our community together.  Thanks for your consideration on this matter.

Please reach out and complete the Building Use Form to request to use one of our buildings. On the website under District Forms

Help when child is sick

173. Will there be online help available for kids home sick for a few days/awaiting negative PCR or only for kids officially quarantined at MS level?

If students can not come to school due to illness – an email is sent to guidance and principal to reach out. Also, at the Middle School Level, all teacher teams are available 4th period on google meet for a quarantined middle school students to log on and receive support from their teachers.

Quarantine for Vaccinated and Not Vaccinated

174. Thanks for offering weekly testing! My question: Are the quarantine rules different for kids who are vaxxed from kids who are unvaxxed? I’m a little unclear on who gets quarantined when someone in the classroom tests positive.

If you are vaccinated, not showing symptoms but considered a direct contact, you do not have to quarantine – It is recommended that you get tested 3-5 days after exposure. If not vaccinated and in direct contact, you have to quarantine.

Rates to Close Schools  

176. What are the infection/quarantine rates that would close the schools’ in-person learning?  Would all schools close or just individual buildings?

There is not a specific rate, at this time, like the metrics that were in place a year ago. If a classroom or school needs to be quarantined, this decision would be done with Ulster County Department of Health. It is possible to quarantine just a class or specific building. Every decision is dependent on the  facts and circumstances of the situation and guidance from Ulster County Department of Health.

Test to come back to school

177. Since we have offered to test kids, could the school also offer to test students or staff who have been exposed to a positive COVID case?

At this time, in order to have an actual Positive Case, one needs to have a PCR test which is not available to us. We are working with Ulster County to have more tests available. The County could provide the District with PCR tests for students/staff to return to school.

Rates to Close

178. While we all want our kids to stay in person, do you know what level of infection rate, if any, would trigger a change to fully remote for the district?

See answer to question 176.

Percentage of vaccinated teachers

179. If it is a HIPPA violation to tell percentages for teachers wouldn’t it be the same HIPPA violation for children?

I personally, don’t have access to the information about individual teachers, our Medical Director does. The District’s attorneys have stated that as a District, we cannot ask teachers if they are vaccinated. However, now that NYS has mandated that unvaccinated employees must be tested weekly, we do know the percentage of staff that are vaccinated verses unvaccinated.  81% of the staff is vaccinated at this time.

Quarantine Procedure

180. Going back, it seems there is confusion as to what the county and state require to come out of quarantine. Does Onteora have a clear policy you can explain?

You have to be asymptomatic or have a negative test. If you tested positive during quarantine, need to stay out longer. The quarantine period is 10 days from last exposure to positive case.  The District is following the Ulster County Dept. of Health policy. As they are our regulatory agency, we must follow their protocols.

Student Vaccines Mandated

181. Apologies if already answered, but what is the chance that students will be required to be vaccinated?

No information on this at this time. This mandate would come from the New York State Department of Health.

Tell more people about positive case

182. When a student tests positive for COVID. Does the state or county call the school to inform them a student tested positive? What is the school’s contract tracing protocol? Contact tracing does not seem to be working. After speaking with some parents in my student’s class, they were not told a student tested positive. I would want to know if a child tested positive so I could make informed medical decisions.

More information on the website in 2021-2022 School Year. This is a small district with small class sizes. So there are concerns about confidentiality. Maintaining confidentiality is difficult. We will continue to try to find better ways to inform parents. We will reach out again to our legal counsel to ascertain what we can communicate and to whom.

Air Purifiers

183. Do you have the air purifiers in all elementary school classrooms? If not, isn’t that something you said you had already purchased when you sent out the reopening plan before school started?

Yes, air purifiers with HEPA filters are in all classroom spaces.

Rates to Close Schools  

184. How many COVID infections would close a building?

See answer to question 176

Not too late to sign up for COVID testing

185. Apologies if I missed this question … is it too late to sign up for the school testing? I think I missed an email to complete the process…

Not too late – Shoutpoint will go out again next week.

Rates to Close Schools  

186. The county decides when and if a school closes?

See answer to question 176

No proof of Vaccination for Children

187. Now that elementary students can be vaccinated, what is the system to provide proof of vaccination?

You are not required to provide proof of vaccination for students at this time, as vaccinations are not yet mandated. A parent can send copy of vaccinated card to health services.

PCR & Antigen Tests

188. What kind of test (PCR or antigen test) are the staff and students getting at school?  Why is a negative antigen test not acceptable for returning to school?  Maybe there can be clarification on the two different tests and why the results are not adequate with the rapid tests?

Antigen Test is a rapid test- this type of test is not allowed to be use to allow students to return to school at this time. The rationale from the Department of Health is that historically, these tests have had a higher rate of rate of false positive – and thus would be considered a good screening tool. At this time, it is only asymptomatic people who can be tested with nan antigen screening tool.

Emails as reminders for meetings

189. Since we no longer have the FB parent support page, could you please send an email out to remind us all each time there’s a forum meeting & regular BOE meetings? These are so important. Thanks so much!

Shoutpoint emails are sent out about COVID Forums as well as Board Meetings. Both are also put on “pop-ups” on our District’s website.