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Update from Clarence CSD August 27, 2021

Dear Clarence School Family,

Earlier in the week, I sent out a 1-page document with information related to the opening of school. I also provided a link that students, parents, and staff members could use to submit questions, and so far, just over 70 people have responded with a range of inquiries.

Rather than answer each question individually, I sorted them by category, and have tried to identify which items appeared most frequently. I have provided additional information on those topics below, and I would also invite folks to join a virtual meeting at 4:00 p.m. on Monday using Zoom Webinar (Link: https://clarenceschools-org.zoom.us/j/96759714879).

When will masking be required for students, staff, and visitors to the Clarence Central School District?

This past week, individuals attending indoor orientation events were required to mask. On Monday, August 30, all students, employees, and visitors to the Clarence Central School District will be required to mask when indoors.

Will students be in school for full days or will the days be shortened?

Yes. Students will be in school for full days using traditional start and end times.

How will my child learn if they are required to quarantine?

If a student is required to quarantine, they will be provided with asynchronous learning materials—similar to what has been done in the past when students were absent from school. Because we are confident that we can provide a safe learning environment for students, our preparation has focused on maximizing in-person instruction during the 2021-2022 school year as opposed to remote or hybrid learning. If the situation changes based on an unexpected number of positive cases or individuals required to quarantine, we may need to revisit our planned learning model.

Will there be limits on spectators at athletic events?

We do not anticipate having to limit the number of spectators at athletic events. However, at indoor competitions, spectators will be required to wear masks, and it is recommended that they maintain 6 feet of physical distance between others. At outdoor athletic events, masking and physical distancing are recommended but not required.

If my son or daughter is fully vaccinated, will they have to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact?

Fully vaccinated individuals who are identified as close contacts will not be subject to quarantine. Persons are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson).

Will my child be required to quarantine if they leave New York State?

As of June 25, 2021, the New York State Travel Advisory is no longer in effect.  As such, students arriving in New York are no longer required to quarantine or submit health forms.

What is the science and data behind the effectiveness of masking?

To be honest, schools are not typically equipped to analyze and interpret the information collected in studies related to the transmission of infectious disease. In the case of COVID-19, UPK-12 districts have to rely on recommendations from the experts in public health who are reviewing the most recent research on masking. Although the question about whether to mask is often presented as a binary decision, studies are typically more complex, and they often involve factors having to do with mask type, fit, context, fidelity, and use as stand-alone interventions.

Are there restrictions on the type of masks students and staff must wear this year?

Yes. According to the guidance from the Erie County Department of Health, students, staff, and visitors must wear two-layer cloth-based or surgical masks that cover both the nose and mouth. Bandanas, gators, and clear face shields are not considered acceptable face coverings. The District will provide face coverings for any student, staff member, or visitor who does not have or requests a mask.

Will polycarbonate barriers be used?

No. Last spring, the District removed polycarbonate barriers from learning spaces due to the fact that they were no longer recommended as an effective mitigation strategy.

Will there be extended passing times between classes and one-way directional traffic patterns for students?

No. Buildings will return to traditional passing times and traffic patterns because neither typically lead to prolonged periods of close contact between students or staff.

Will vaccinations be mandated for students and staff?

A few days ago, Governor Kathy Hochul indicated that she might require vaccinations for all school personnel, with an option to test out weekly. Since that point, schools have not received any further detail other than what has been reported in the news media. However, the District does recommend vaccinations as a means of ensuring a safe return to in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and athletics. Information on vaccinations from the Erie County Department of Health can be found by visiting this website: https://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=covid-19-vaccine-information

What will Elementary School cohorting look like?

In Elementary School classrooms, students are naturally cohorted in most situations with the same classroom teacher and group of peers. However, this year, students will once again be moving around buildings for meals, recess, specials, etc.  

What is the school doing to improve air quality in classrooms?

When temperatures allow, windows in classrooms will be opened, and the fresh air intake will be set as high as our HVAC systems allow. Additionally, air filters were replaced over the summer, and they will continue to be changed based on our existing preventative maintenance schedules.

How will I know if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

At the end of each week, we will provide an overview related to positive COVID-19 cases in the Clarence Central School District. Over the past two months, we were notified by the Erie County Department of Health that we had one Elementary School student test positive at the end of Summer School, and one student test positive after attending 9th Grade Orientation. Contact tracing was completed and parents were notified by the Erie County Department of Health.

I know that this communication doesn’t address all the opening questions that individuals have on their minds. However, I will try to answer more in Monday’s virtual meeting, and I would also encourage parents to call or email building principals or central office administrators if they have specific questions.

Enjoy the last full week of summer with your kids—we can’t wait to welcome them back to school on Wednesday, September 8!

Matt Frahm, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools