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The New York State Education Department sent a memo to school superintendents across the state on Thursday afternoon, providing preliminary reopening guidance based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics while we wait for official guidance from the NYS Department of Health and the Governor’s Office.

According to the NYS Education Department’s memo, “The Governor’s staff has informed the Department that guidance from DOH is in development and the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will serve as its basis. Therefore, the best the Department can offer to schools when it comes to health-related preparations for September is that CDC guidelines should be the basis of preparing for the 2021-2022 school year until further information is issued by the Governor or DOH.”

The CDC, in part, recommends:

  • Prioritize in-person learning in the fall 2021.
  • Promote vaccination as it is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully reopen while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
  • Implement layers of prevention such as screening, testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.

The East Greenbush Central School District is reviewing these recommendations and making plans for the start of the 2021-22 school year. The top priority for the district, as stated by Superintendent Jeff Simons at a public Board of Education meeting on Wednesday evening, is to have all K-12 students return to full time in-person learning in September.

“I firmly believe that under any circumstances moving into September that we will have to be in person full time K-12,” Mr. Simons said. “And within the guidance, once it’s available, everyone will be working to make that happen.”

More information will be provided to district stakeholders – faculty, staff and families – as it becomes available.