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Letter from Dr. Godshall in Regards to Back to School

August 23, 2021

 

Dear Orleans/Niagara BOCES Community:

 

“Welcome back to school” fall greetings are being sent out across the local school districts and from this BOCES.  We had hoped that the return to “normalcy” for our programs would be back.  Regrettably, current COVID-19 data is trending in the wrong direction.  We are all aware that our children benefit most from in-person instruction and face-to-face daily interactions with their teachers and peers.  We are aware that our youngest learners and some with special needs struggle without in-person learning.  We know that many families face challenges in providing care for children during the day, when parents and guardians must work.  Hence, we will continue to conduct full time (5 days/week) instruction at all of our sites.

 

Out of an abundance of caution and based upon the recommendations from the New York State Education Department, Departments of Health, our insurance providers, and other knowledgeable agencies, we will again be following our safety protocols similar to the last school year.  In making our decisions, we are monitoring local data supplied to us by the County Health Departments, as well as statements issued by:

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC): “Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant...CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status;” and
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): “All students older than two (2) years and all school staff should wear face masks at school (unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use).”

 

Our plan for returning across our sites in September will include the following protocols:

  • Masks will be worn by vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, students and visitors inside school buildings, except when mask breaks are provided.
  • Bus Travel:

            o Masks will be worn on buses by both vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff.

  • Social Distancing:

           o The social distancing guidance, including the guidance calling for three (3) feet of distance between students within classrooms, will be followed whenever practicable.  

  • Cleaning and Disinfection:

          o All safety protocols (frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high touch surfaces, etc.) will continue as currently in place.

  • Outside on School Property

          o Masks are not required to be worn outside while on school property by either vaccinated or unvaccinated students and staff.

 

When the COVID-19 transmission rates decrease, the effectiveness of these protocols will be reviewed.  The BOCES staff will be receiving updated CDC, health department, and Education Department guidancend providing further guidelines with more detailed information, as conditions change.
 
The pandemic has highlighted the work of all who have adapted and adjusted in contributing to the success of the clients we serve, especially in the areas of instruction, cleaning, payroll and operations.

 

Throughout the pandemic, we have made it our #1 priority to get our students and staff back in BOCES safely, in person, every day; and that remains our goal.

 

We appreciate the tremendous support you have given us and look forward to working closely with our entire BOCES community as we progress closer to true normalcy.  I praise all, as we continue to diligently follow our health and safety protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and the variants.

 

I look forward to seeing you!

 

Sincerely,

Clark J. Godshall

Dr. Clark J. Godshall

District Superintendent/CEO