Superintendent’s Letter: Update on opening of schools in September

The following message was sent to GCSD families:

Dear GCSD Families,

The first day of the 2021-2022 school year is exactly one month away on Thursday, September 9th and we are working diligently to prepare to welcome your students safely back to school. The purpose of this letter is twofold; to provide you with information regarding the start of this school year in light of the latest, rapidly-changing developments in the transmission of COVID-19 and the guidance available to us. The second purpose of this letter is to gather some preliminary information from you regarding two items: first, your interest in accessing an upcoming vaccination clinic the district will be hosting in collaboration with Guilderland EMS and second, to gather requests for fully remote instruction in the new school year for those students for whom it will be medically necessary.

As you may have heard in recent news, the NYS Department of Health will not be issuing guidance to schools for the upcoming year. In the absence of that guidance the Guilderland Central School District will depend on the sound, scientific guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatricians to make decisions about the safe opening of schools this fall. Also, we will rely on the Albany County Department of Health to provide recommendations that are pertinent to our localized situation.

Health and Safety Protocols

Our top priority is to safely return to in-person instruction in September; all of our planning has been based on that goal, a goal fully endorsed by the CDC and the AAP. At this time, the district intends to follow the CDC recommendation for three feet of social distancing in classrooms (whenever possible) and to use a multi-layered prevention strategy to include the following: 

  • Universal indoor masking for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status;
  • Mask wearing on school buses for all riders at all times;
  • Hand washing and respiratory etiquette;
  • Staying home (students and staff) when they have signs of any infectious illness and referral to their healthcare provider for testing and care;
  • Contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation;
  • Cleaning and disinfection; 
  • Ongoing monitoring of community transmission, vaccination coverage, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide future decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies. 

Mask Wearing and Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the Albany County Department of Health all advocate for mask wearing and vaccination as effective measures in mitigating the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. According to the CDC website, data supports mask wearing to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 while being a safe measure. Adopting universal mask policies can help avert future lockdowns. To read more about the scientific data backing this policy, click here. Additionally, vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic and to help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.   

The district will be hosting a vaccination clinic later in August for eligible students (ages 12 and up) and their families. In order to plan the number of doses needed, please complete the survey linked here by Wednesday, August 11. More information about the clinic will be sent shortly.

Fully Remote Instruction Option through BOCES

Finally, Guilderland will be participating in the fully remote K-12 program for families who wish to consider that model for medical reasons. If you wish to be placed on a list for consideration of this full year option, please complete the survey linked here by Monday August 16.  If you plan for your child to be in-person in September, you do not need to complete the form.

More Information on the Way

Our full plan for opening in September will be posted to the district website in the coming days. Later in August we will be hosting a live-streamed question and answer program for our families. Please watch for more information.

As always, the health and safety of the students and staff of the Guilderland Central School District are our highest priority. We look forward to welcoming your children back to school in September in a safe and healthy environment where they can continue to grow and achieve their highest potential.

Sincerely,

Marie Wiles, Ph.D.
Superintendent

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