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An important update from Superintendent Jody Monroe

Filed in District, District News by on November 28, 2020

The following is a message for families from Superintendent Jody Monroe:

Dear BC parent/guardian:

I hope that you had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. As we make the most of the holiday weekend safely, I wanted to provide you with some important reminders and a look ahead as we monitor and respond to COVID-19 developments as they impact the Bethlehem Central School District.

Due to recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the district, please note the following updates for the week of Nov. 30:

  • Bethlehem Central High School will be remote only through Friday, Dec. 4; and
  • Patroon 8 only at Bethlehem Central Middle School will be remote through Thursday, Dec. 3.
  • In-person instruction for all others will continue as scheduled.

You may be aware that increasing cases of COVID-19 in Albany County have put our community at risk of being designated a “Yellow Zone” as part of New York State’s Cluster Action Initiative, a mitigation strategy being used to address the spread of the virus on a regional basis. While Albany County is currently NOT a Yellow Zone, I wanted you to be aware of the state’s three-zone designations as they affect schools:

Yellow Zone (least restrictive)

  • Schools remain open but must have a COVID-19 testing program in place to test 20% of students/teachers/staff for in-person settings.
  • Schools unable to test 20% in a two-week period will be required to move everyone to full remote instruction.

Orange Zone (more restrictive)

  • Schools are closed and shift to remote learning.
  • After four days, a district has the option to reopen if it tests 100% of students/teachers/staff.

Red Zone (most restrictive)

  • Schools are closed and shift to remote learning

Every community’s health data is evaluated differently when the state determines if an area qualifies as one of these zones and the requirements for schools in each zone are subject to change. Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to announce changes to some of this information as part of a Winter COVID Plan state officials are developing. That announcement is expected the week of Nov. 30.

Without knowing what that plan might look like or if our community will be subject to a zone designation, our district has been looking to schools who are already in Yellow or Orange Zones in other parts of the state to help us learn what a successful in-school COVID-19 testing program might look like.

For the last several weeks, we have been in constant contact with these districts, and with public health experts, who have shared valuable resources and best practices so that when the time comes, if that time comes, our district will be ready with testing protocols that are safe, efficient and provide us with reliable data that could be used for important schoolwide health and safety decision-making.

If schools in the Bethlehem Central School District become subject to Yellow or Orange Zone requirements, any testing of students would be voluntary and done only with the advance consent of parents/guardians. Individual test results would be shared only with families, the school nurse and the local Department of Health. Aggregate data would be used to identify outbreaks or determine infection rates that could trigger school closures. 

Again, as of now, our community has not been designated as a Yellow Zone and planning for COVID testing at school is being done as a proactive measure. However, the trend in the number of cases and countywide infection rates would suggest that a Yellow Zone designation is something we must be prepared for.

As we learn more, I will keep you informed of any developments that could affect your family. In the meantime, please enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend.

Sincerely,

Jody Monroe

Superintendent