Implications of NYSDOH Updated Guidance for In-Person Instruction

On Friday evening, New York State issued updated guidance for in-person instruction, social distancing, and reopening of schools. Today, Superintendent John Xanthis, district administrators, and Nurse Coordinator Connie Griffin met to review the guidance and its implications on our current plans.

To read the revised State guidance, which was designed to align closely with the CDC guidance that was released on March 19th, please click on this link: https://www.governor.ny.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/Pre-K_to_Grade_12_Schools_MasterGuidance.pdf

The guidance follows four levels of indicators and threshold for community transmission of COVID-19 which are low, moderate, substantial, and high. 

At this time, CDC has identified Orange County as an area of high transmission. This can be viewed at this link: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view

On page 8 of the guidance document, the State outlines the requirement that must be followed for physical distancing in counties with a high risk of transmission: 

“In counties with high risk of transmission, elementary schools can maintain physical distancing of at least three feet between students in classrooms and cohorting is recommended when possible. However, in middle and high schools three feet between students in classrooms is recommended only when schools can use cohorting. When schools cannot maintain cohorting, middle and high schools must maintain physical distancing of at least six feet between students in classrooms.”

The guidance also states that the CDC no longer recommends barriers as a mitigation strategy where physical distancing can not be maintained. 

Due to this revised guidance, six feet of distance must continue to be maintained at the Middle School and High School. Unfortunately, Middle School and High School students are not able to return to five days a week at this time. 

Therefore, on Monday, April 12th the following will be implemented:

  • Elementary students will come back five days a week as planned. Principals and custodial staff are working this weekend to determine how best to allow students to each lunch, as they must continue to be six feet apart while eating. 

  • ALC will remain at five days a week and those students that chose to come back five days a week may do so.

  • The Middle School and High School students will remain on the instructional model that they were on as of last week. No changes will be made until the community transmission level in our area is no longer high or there is further guidance issued by the CDC or State.

If you were contacted about a High School or Middle School bus change, please disregard, as there will be no bus changes at this time for the Middle School or the High School.

As we have said many times, the educational landscape shifts drastically from day to day due to COVID-19 and the guidance updates that are made by the CDC and the NYS DOH.   

Orange County Department of Health has yet to issue any guidance based on the State’s revisions late yesterday.  We have been told that may come some time tomorrow, however it is not possible for their guidance to be less restrictive than the State or CDC. We will update you if there are any further changes tomorrow.

We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your continued support of the Valley Central School District.