COVID Protocols Update from District Superintendent Dr. Godshall
April 1, 2022
Dear Orleans/Niagara BOCES Community:
With the ending of the universal mask mandate for schools in New York State, effective Wednesday, March 2, 2022, and with concurrence of our partners, effective immediately and until further notice, Orleans/Niagara BOCES will no longer be requiring daily temperature check screening for all students. Also, effective immediately and until further notice, Orleans/Niagara BOCES staff are not required to complete the daily health screening questionnaire unless the staff member has experienced any COVID-19 symptoms, tested positive for COVID-19, or been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Now it is believed that, by any measurable metric, schools have progressed to the point where requiring everyone to wear a mask is no longer necessary to contain the spread of COVID. However, we do encourage anyone with any ongoing health concerns, whether for themselves or others, to continue wearing a mask. Your choice to do so will not result in you being ostracized, harassed, or excluded from any activity, opportunity, or experience provided by the BOCES. It is also important to know that the Niagara County and Orleans County Departments of Health support these changes.
The lifting of the mask mandate will not change the daily practices with regards to maintaining a safe environment for all people. The continuation of daily sanitization will occur. In addition, isolation or quarantining/test-to-stay protocols for students and staff who test positive for COVID-19, are exposed to a COVID-positive individual, or who exhibit COVID-like symptoms will also continue, consistent with guidance from the state and local health departments. Additionally consistent with guidance from the state, persons who return to school or work after testing positive are required to wear masks through the tenth day after the beginning of the isolation period. We continue to encourage everyone to practice good personal health and hygiene habits: cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, wash your hands with soap frequently, and clean up after yourself.
Thank you to everyone who assists with our COVID mitigation strategies which help keep each other healthy and safe. All of our BOCES staff and the entire community are making every effort to work together. We are very appreciative of everyone’s cooperation, flexibility, and patience — especially the tremendous efforts by our teachers and support staff.
It is important for students and staff to remain home when experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms. A negative COVID-19 test result is required before returning to school or work.
We continue to strongly urge all who qualify to obtain a vaccination and the booster(s).
The Orleans/Niagara BOCES continues to provide COVID-19 test kits to our districts and at the BOCES for distribution to their students. Should you desire a test kit, please contact your school nurse or the building administration.
We know that many families face challenges in providing care for children during the day, when parents and guardians must work. We continue to conduct full-time instruction at all of our sites while staying keenly aware of the burden of isolating affected individuals.
The BOCES is working in conjunction with local health departments to provide pediatric COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds. Vaccine appointments for children are readily available through pediatricians, pharmacies, and other locations. More detailed information can be found on the counties’ websites.
Out of an abundance of caution, and based upon legal requirements and guidance received from the New York State Education Department (NYSED), the state and local departments of health, our insurance providers, and other experts, we continue to follow our safety protocols.
Our updated plans require the following protocols:
- Wearing of masks have been discontinued. However, we do encourage anyone with any ongoing health concerns, whether for themselves or others, to continue wearing a mask. Masks are not required to be worn while on school property by either vaccinated or unvaccinated students and staff. Masks are no longer required on buses.
- The social distancing guidance (minimum of three feet between K-12 students in classrooms, minimum of six feet between persons in all other circumstances) will be followed whenever practicable.
- All other safety protocols (cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces, etc.) will continue as currently in place.
Thank you to our students, the dedication of our employees, and the unwavering support of our families and community for their patience during these challenging times.
Clark J. Godshall, Ed.D.