Return-to-school and COVID-19 reporting/communication protocols

On September 30, the New York State Department of Health released a “Pre-K to Gr 12 COVID-19 Toolkit” containing updated guidance related to student and staff attendance for those who are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19. Please view the following to ensure that you are well-informed about these important updates.

Return-to-School Protocol

As you know, everyone who enters our school buildings is being asked to screen for possible COVID-19 symptoms using the district’s Mandatory COVID-19 Screening Attestation. Those who are ill are asked to stay home.

District officials want to clarify what needs to happen before students and staff can return to school after falling ill or showing COVID-19 symptoms.

SYMPTOMS: If a student or employee has shown symptoms of the coronavirus, one of the following must take place before that person can return to school:

  • Your health-care provider gives you a conclusive diagnosis of something other than COVID-19;
  • You test negative for COVID-19; or
  • You are released from isolation by the Department of Health.

Please note: Students and employees will be asked to provide documentation from a health care provider of an alternative diagnosis, or a negative COVID test result.

Anyone who is symptomatic for 48 hours and does not receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID test result will be isolated by the Department of Health.

CONFIRMED DIAGNOSIS: If a student or employee tests positive for coronavirus, they must have a health care provider note AND the following conditions must be met:

  • at least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms or the date of the positive COVID-19 test; AND
  • at least 24 hours have passed since the resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication.

A negative COVID-19 test will not be required, unless specifically requested by the Department of Health, but may be provided in addition to the health care provider’s note.

PERTINENT EXPOSURE: Examples of this could include recent travel to an area listed on the NYSDOH travel advisory website where precautionary quarantine should be completed for 14 days.

Healthcare provider notes must include AT MINIMUM the following information:

  • The individual is cleared to return to school/work
  • The individual has an alternate diagnosis unrelated to COVID OR the individual has no subsequent illness after completing their quarantine period OR the individual has successfully completed their isolation period and meet current CDC clearance guidance.

We are aware that these protocols may present challenges for some families, but please know that these protocols are not simply school or district policy. Only the Health Department has the power to release individuals from isolation, which would then allow them to return to the school.

If you have questions, please contact your school nurse. Their contact information can be found at https://www.gcsny.org/departments/health/.

Communicating Positive Cases in our Schools

Please note the following procedure for how the district will communicate positive cases of COVID-19 to the families and employees of our school district:

  • The district will notify parents/guardians and employees about the positive case via the district website and an email notification via the School Messenger system.
  • The notification will only indicate the school connected to the positive individual. This is in accordance with what is shared via the state COVID-19 Report Card.
  • District officials will not issue any COVID-19 notifications until we have received confirmation from the department of health.

It is important to note the following:

  • Privacy laws prohibit the district from disclosing personally identifiable information about the individual who tested positive.
  • In the event of a confirmed case, the district will work closely with the Orange County Department of Health to identify who is at risk for potential exposure so that they can contact those individuals and guide them through next steps, such as testing or quarantine. The department of health will contact those determined to be at risk via telephone.
  • The process for closing school and/or classrooms will be dependent upon many variables such as the nature and size of the outbreak, as well as the number of positive cases. The district will work closely with the local health department to determine if a school closure is warranted.

Reporting to the COVID-19 Report Card

All schools in New York state, including the Goshen Central School District, are required to submit a daily report to the state of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to a school. The COVID-19 Report Card is available to the public on the New York State Department of Health website and includes daily case statistics from schools throughout the state.

Goshen is required to report not only confirmed positive COVID cases connected to the school, but also any instance where someone (such as a student or employee) has shown symptoms of the coronavirus for at least 48 hours, but has not been tested or has not received a conclusive alternative diagnosis within that time. In such instances, the district must proceed as if that individual is positive, and report it as a positive case to local and state authorities.

In addition, the state dashboard includes a number that is an estimate of “Lab Reported Positives based on Residential Address” as part of its school COVID Report Card. This estimate may differ from the number of cases that are directly related to the school district, and may include students who reside within the district, but do not attend Goshen Central School District schools. Individual school data on the dashboard is listed separately below this estimated number.