Return to School From Winter Recess Information
Dear Middle Country Parents, Guardians, Staff and Community Members,
I hope you are well and able to enjoy time with your families and friends. With the COVID rate exceeding 20% in Suffolk County, you may have had holiday plans "paused" because of the virus; if that was the case, I hope symptoms were mild and you or your family members and friends are on the mend.
I'm writing to provide information on our return to school on Monday, January 3rd and to answer questions you may have about recent media reports on COVID testing... is it required, are kits being made available, etc. Throughout the week, I've attended several virtual meetings, including with the Governor and her staff and with the Suffolk Department of Health. Discussions at these meetings clarified a few items, including the Governor's efforts to keep our schools safe for students and staff.
This past Monday, media, including Newsday, reported a proposal from Governor Hochul that indicated all students and staff would need to be tested prior to returning to school on January 3, 2022. School officials were able to work with the Governor's team to help them understand the many logistical obstacles to implementing her plan including availability of tests, distribution of tests, timeliness, and individuals who do not want to participate - or have their children participate, in a testing program.
The Governor's plan has evolved and - as of this writing, is as follows:
- Shortly after our return to school on Monday, January 3, a survey will be distributed to parents/guardians to assess the desire to receive home testing kits. Once the kits have been made available to school districts (we haven't received them yet), we will put into place a plan for testing kits to be picked up by interested parents/guardians. Participation in home testing for COVID will not be required. These testing kits are meant to be an additional resource to help prevent further spread of the COVID virus.
- "Test to Stay" has been adopted by the Suffolk County Department of Health. This applies, however, only to school-based exposures to COVID-19. Further guidance will be provided by the Suffolk County Department Health. Once that guidance is received, it will be communicated to you.
- The reduction of quarantine restrictions from ten days to five days applies only to fully vaccinated essential workers (school employees are considered essential in New York State). The reduction of quarantine restrictions does not apply to students.
- The Governor and all health officials continue to express the importance of keeping students and staff safe, healthy and in school. Remote learning is to be implemented only when absolutely necessary.
We will continue to communicate any changes to protocols or planning as new information is received. Ever-changing guidelines and COVID fatigue are frustrating, but - together - we will keep our schools safe for our students and our staff.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2022,
Superintendent of Schools