KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane School distributed nearly 1,000 take home Covid-19 tests last week, according to Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow. She updated the Board of Education at their regular meeting on January 11 which was held in person at the primary school and live streamed on the district’s YouTube page.
The testing kits were provided by the governor’s office, according to Ms. Guntlow, who said the district found out about the tests when Governor Kathy Hochul announced that schools would be receiving them during the winter break. Ms. Guntlow said it was a quick turnaround but they were able to set-up a pick-up time for the tests. At the meeting and in an email to parents, she explained that the tests, which came as a box of 2 for each child currently in the district, could be used as soon as they were received as a surveillance test or the test could be held until a child shows symptoms.
The email to parents said, “Using these test kits is completely voluntary. We strongly encourage that you utilize these home test kits for your children only.”
She also said that about 350 tests were made available for the staff at the school by the county Department of Health.
Ms. Guntlow also said the state is coming out with new Covid information. “We have gotten several updates in the last week or two,” she said at the meeting.
She talked about the governor’s “Test to Stay” program. A press release from the governor said, Test-to-Stay policies include procedures that “if a student tests positive, classmates can take a test kit home with them and return to the classroom upon receiving a negative result instead of mandatory quarantining.”
Ms. Guntlow said she expected more information in the coming weeks. The school district did announce a change to its quarantine protocols earlier this month based on the state Department of Health guidelines. If a person tests positive for Covid-19, they need to “isolate for 5 days, where day 0 is the day of symptom onset or (if asymptomatic) the day of collection of the first positive specimen.” If the person is asymptomatic after testing positive “at the end of 5 days, or if symptoms are resolving, isolation ends and the individual should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days.” And if a person in the district is exposed to Covid-19 and they are not fully vaccinated, they must quarantine for 5 days and wear a well-fitting mask while around others for an additional 5 days. If they are fully vaccinated there is no quarantine required but these individuals should wear a well-fitting mask while around others for 10 days after the last date of exposure.
There is still a mask mandate on school grounds so all students and staff wear masks.
Several people spoke at the beginning of the meeting about the worry of having a mask mandate and the fact that the district has received federal funds to help with Covid relief.
Board President Matthew Nelson said at the end of the public comment period that he wanted to make it completely clear that there is no long-term mask mandate. The mask mandate is at the discretion of the Department of Health and the governor, he told the audience. He also stressed that a mask mandate has “nothing to do with the funding we have received from a grant or donation” or any from state and federal funding.
“This misconception can be put to rest,” he said.
Ms. Guntlow also pointed out during a presentation from the district’s guidance department that the district is able to support the new school social worker through federal grant funds. And during his budget presentation, district Business Manager Michael Brennan said that federal funds are separate from the school’s budget. The school received one-time funding through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and the American Relief Plan (ARP).
In his budget presentation from last month, Mr. Brennan presented a slide saying, “Approximately half of the federal money has been approved” and that the district has “already spent a significant portion on computers, textbooks, department specific supplies, LETRS training, Sonday System materials and training, software, extended programming like Explorers! and Summer School.”
Information on the federal funds and the proposed budget is on the district’s website at www.ichabodcrane.org
The board also heard an update on the major capital improvement project in the district and an update on solar panels that where installed on the campus. Ms. Guntlow said the science department is working with a non-profit on making the area around the solar panels an “outdoor learning place.”
The new technology wing in the high school is still under construction but now has walls and a floor, and the middle school gym is the last part of that school that is still under construction.
The next board meeting is February 1 at 7 p.m. Meetings are normally held in-person in the primary school cafeteria and online.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chatham goes online
CHATHAM—Though most schools in the county remain open for in-person learning, the Chatham Central School District’s elementary school (MED) and the middle school (CMS) had to switch to online learning on January 13 and 14.
The district made the announcement on January 11 saying, “The shift is necessary due to increasing Covid-related staffing shortages that are affecting our ability to provide instruction and other basic school functions in these two buildings. At this time, we anticipate that MED and CMS will be able to return to in-person instruction on Tuesday, January 18, following the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.”