This message was emailed to district families today:
November 16, 2020
Dear Wayland-Cohocton Families,
As you are aware, the rate of COVID-19 infections is rapidly increasing throughout Western New York. Governor Cuomo has developed a new strategy of monitoring and responding to outbreaks of new cases within a limited and definable geographic region, which are called micro-clusters. Our community and schools have diligently followed the health and safety protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Despite everyone's best efforts, a rising community spread of the virus in the near future could impact our hybrid learning and teaching model.
The Governor's micro-cluster strategy uses multiple data points such as positivity rates,
hospitalizations, population density, contact tracing efforts, etc. to identify a geographic area by region, county, or zip code. Once an area has been identified, the local Departments of Health engage in containment efforts. This includes identifying a micro-cluster zone with a color to indicate the severity of the outbreak. The possible color-coded micro-cluster zones are as follows for Steuben County.
Yellow Zone: 7-day rolling average of positive tests above 3.5% for 10 days and 15 or more new cases per 100,000 residents on a 7-day average.
Orange Zone: 7-day rolling average of positive tests above 4.5% for 10 days and 15 or more new cases per 100,000 residents on a 7-day average.
Red Zone: 7-day rolling average of positive tests above 5.5% for 10 days and 15 or more new cases per 100,000 residents on a 7-day average.
If our schools are designated to be in a yellow zone micro-cluster, our campus could remain open to in-person learning and teaching, however, we would be required to randomly identify and test 20% of our students and staff each week until the data points drop below the zone thresholds. If we could not meet these testing requirements, we would have to transition to full remote learning and instruction. If identified in an orange or red zone, we would need to transition to full remote learning and instruction for at least 2 weeks. All students, faculty, and staff must have a negative COVID-19 test result before returning to in-person schooling. We would also need to continue testing 25% of our students and staff each week.
Currently Steuben County is at a 3.2% positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
We are sure that this announcement raises as many questions for parents as it does for us. At this time, we do not have complete information on how or in what manner this testing will take place. We are awaiting official guidance from New York State about student and staff testing in schools, but this is what we do know:
- Parents will need to formally consent to student testing.
- The testing requirement only pertains to in-person learners and personnel.
- Schools in yellow zones must test 20% of in-person students, faculty and staff over the two-week period immediately following the announcement of a yellow zone designation. If the results of the testing reveal that the positivity rate among the 20% of those tested is lower than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, testing at the school will no longer be required to continue.
It is important for all of us to be mindful of these situations. At any time, we all must be prepared to transition temporarily to remote instruction, when necessary.
As always, I will keep you informed of any changes to the educational environment within our buildings and campus.
Keep up the great work Wayland-Cohocton!
Eileen M. Feinman