COVID-19 communication: What we’ve learned so far

Dear Goshen Schools family,

As you are aware, over the past few days, the district saw an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases. At the time this letter was written, we reported six positive cases in our schools.

District officials recognize that the multiple notifications about these positive cases may have caused some confusion for our families. We are taking this opportunity to plan a more streamlined way of notifying our school community about positive COVID-19 cases as well as other related information, such as school closures.

Going forward, all COVID-19 communication will be sent at the end of the school day (approximately 3-4 p.m. or later, depending on the time when we are informed of a positive COVID-19 case in our schools). This information will be emailed and posted on the website.

By waiting until the end of the school day, district officials will have ample time to:

  • consult with the Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH) to notify any at-risk individuals about their required self-quarantine period;
  • discuss whether or not we can effectively staff our classes, and/or if we need to close school for in-person learning because of a shortage of teachers and/or substitutes;
  • “wait and see” if other positive cases arise during the day so that we can streamline our notifications and provide the most accurate information. (This was the case on Wednesday, Nov. 4, when we were notified of a positive case every few hours, resulting in multiple notifications to our school community).

We realize that people talk, and our families may find out about positive cases before an official statement is made by the district. However, it is our firm belief that we need to be the most accurate source of information for our school community. We will always communicate with you about positive cases in our schools. We will only do so after confirming and consulting with the department of health. You can also view daily statistics from schools throughout the state on the COVID-19 Report Card, found on the New York State Department of Health website.

I would also like to point out that the decision to close school for in-person learning is not taken lightly. Our district, as well as many surrounding districts, are suffering from the ripple effect of school closures in the area. Several members of our instructional staff are unable to report to school because they must quarantine, while others have children who attend neighboring districts that have also closed, or they are required to quarantine because of positive cases in their schools, as well. Because of the pandemic, we are experiencing a shortage of substitute teachers throughout the county; therefore, the decision to switch to remote learning is our best option for continuing academic instruction.

We will continue to work closely with the Orange County Department of Health to ensure that our buildings and procedures are ideal for a safe learning environment. Please note the following recommendations from the OCDOH for helping to stop the spread during the pandemic:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wear a face mask.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Call your primary care physician if you display symptoms of COVID-19.

I would also like to remind our families about the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidelines for self-quarantine in case you, or your child, are directed to do so.

  • People in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow all directions provided by our district staff and/or the health department.
  • When a student or staff member is in quarantine, it helps prevent the spread by keeping those who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others, both in and outside of school. Oftentimes, COVID-19 can be spread because an infected person is not yet showing symptoms or they are ill but asymptomatic.
  • According to the local health department, a negative COVID-19 test does not release you from quarantine.
  • You can find more information about quarantine and COVID-19 on the CDC website.

I thank you all for your patience as we navigate these difficult times. If you have questions, please contact your building administrators or school nurse. We are all in this together.

Sincerely,

Daniel T. Connor
Superintendent of Schools