Dear Putnam Valley Community:
I’m wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!
I am hopeful that everyone has enjoyed their break and is optimistic the New Year will bring better days ahead. Today, as we approach the anticipated reopening of schools on Monday, January 3, COVID remains prevalent in our nation, and I write to you today to keep you as informed as I can about our current status.
Throughout the break, we have been closely monitoring COVID’s impact on our school community. As we have previously shared, schools will reopen on Monday as long as we can safely staff our buildings. This current surge is not expected to dissipate in a day or a week, instead this is something we anticipate being with us for several weeks, hence closing schools could quickly become a longer term closure, which we want to avoid. Long term school closures would have an enormously negative impact on our community.
Our school district has proven that proper mitigation strategies can slow the spread of the virus in our classrooms. A vast majority of positive cases leading into the holiday break were exposures that took place outside of school. It is our belief that together we can continue to slow the spread of the virus in our buildings once schools reopen.
There have been several updates from the NYSDOH over the past week. Several of these updates will better allow us to keep students in school and allow asymptomatic staff members the possibility of returning to work early.
Test to Stay: The district expects a county supported Test to Stay program to be in place for unvaccinated and asymptomatic students who were exposed at school to test back into school during their quarantine period. We will share more details as soon as they become available.
Return to Work: Staff members who meet the criteria outlined by the recent CDC memo may be allowed to return to work on day 6 of their isolation. All conditions must be met and the district must request the individuals return to address staffing shortages.
Student Surveillance Testing: Surveillance testing will be available for those families who signed up to participate. Depending on test availability we anticipate reopening the sign up form for additional families who wish to participate. (12/8/21 email)
Staff Testing: Mandatory weekly testing remains in place for unvaccinated staff members, and surveillance testing is available for all staff members. Almost 200 self-test kits were sent home with staff members before the break to help ensure their safe return to work.
These are very difficult times, and we remain deeply aware of how decisions made by the district could impact families in different ways. We know that students learn best while in school. We know that we have been vigilant about preventing the spread of the virus in our schools. However, we must also be able to effectively staff our buildings to keep everyone safe.
We are looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back on Monday, January 3. If at any time we receive information that would prevent this from happening, any changes to our plan will be immediately shared with the community.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to our school district and our community. Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy, and happy new year and a bright 2022 ahead.
Dr. Jeremy Luft
Superintendent of Schools