November 23, 2020
Dear Parents and Guardians:
We take this opportunity to thank you for all you have done to date to stay healthy and keep your children and families safe. Your hard work in keeping everyone healthy and safe has allowed us to keep schools open for in-person instruction.
We are now entering a dangerous and uncertain time as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across our country and state. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are accelerating across the country as more governors and local officials announce new measures to try to combat the spread of COVID-19. Locally, the eight counties that make up the Capital Region reported 271 new infections on November 16, which is the highest total of the pandemic.
We meet virtually with superintendents in Rensselaer, Columbia, and Greene counties twice a week and with our county health departments weekly to discuss COVID-19 related developments and ways we can continue to keep our buildings safely open for students and staff. In working with the local health department, it is concerning to hear of the ways COVID-19 is spreading. This includes parties (i.e., Halloween, birthday, gender reveal, baby showers), family gatherings with members from outside the household, social gatherings with friends, and interstate competitions.
If at any point you or someone in your family is directed to quarantine, please respect what you are being asked to do in the interest of public health. People in quarantine need to stay home, separate themselves from others in the home, monitor their health, and follow directions from the local health department.
Please continue to follow all safety guidelines outside of school hours including proper use of face coverings, social distancing, handwashing, avoiding gatherings and travel to states with high positivity rates and keeping your child home if they are sick.
As we look ahead to the Thanksgiving break, we ask for your help in making sure everyone celebrates and observes this year’s activities in a different way that puts health and safety first. According to the CDC, the safest way to celebrate this year is to celebrate with people in your household. Please consider virtual gatherings or other activities that reduce your and your child’s risk of getting the virus. Traveling, sharing food, and attending indoor gatherings outside your household increases your risk – and the risk of spreading COVID-19 within our schools.
We will be required by the state to test students and staff to keep schools open if the virus continues to spread in our region and we are identified by the state as a yellow, orange or red micro-cluster. While we are prepared for the possibility of a shift to remote learning in the future, we ask for your continued partnership so that we can remain open for in-person instruction. Ultimately, how well we continue to follow the COVID-19 protocols individually and collectively will determine whether we can continue to keep our school building open.
Finally, while the initial reports on two vaccines look promising, they may not be available to us until later this spring. As a result, we need to prepare ourselves mentally for a long winter ahead. This includes staying informed, being prepared if more restrictions are implemented, shrinking our social bubbles, connecting with others virtually and keeping our guards up.
We know that you have made many sacrifices the past eight months and for that we thank you. We ask that you please continue your efforts to contain this virus so that we can keep our schools open.
Thank you for your cooperation, support, and patience.
Dr. Mary Yodis
Wynantskill UFSD Superintendent