Returning Thoughts and Considerations
January 2, 2022
Dear parents, caregivers and staff:
As we bid so long to 2021 and welcome 2022, we are off to a fresh set of challenges with Covid-19. The communications sent out over the holiday break represent the positive cases that we were made aware of–not all that exist–within the school community. As expected the numbers that have continued to increase in the county are reflected in our school community. The New Paltz Central School District will continue to take the steps necessary to keep our schools safe for our faculty, staff, and students. There is much uncertainty ahead of us with regard to the impact of Covid-19 on our schools, however, I wanted to make you aware of some of the steps we are taking as we prepare for the return of our students tomorrow.
Covid-19 Rapid Test Distribution: The district will once again supply interested families with at-home test kits. Information about test kit distribution will be shared this week once the additional kits from the State arrive. The tests are meant as an additional tool/resource to prevent further spread of Covid-19.
Face Coverings: As per the guidelines from the New York State Department of Health, face coverings will continue to be required in all buildings for students, staff, and visitors. Due to the increased transmissibility of the Omicron Variant, the CDC has encouraged the use of well-fitting masks. As our students return to the classroom tomorrow, this would be a good opportunity to inventory the masks your child is wearing to check for fit and coverage.
Test to Stay: Over the holiday break the Ulster County Department of Health communicated their support for school districts to adopt the New York State Test to Stay program, which allows asymptomatic, unvaccinated school-based close contacts (e.g. students, teachers, school staff) to avoid school exclusion (but not other restrictions of quarantine) by testing negative through serial testing using rapid NAAT or antigen tests during a seven-day period following exposure. Close contacts will be given rapid tests to be administered at home, along with guidance about their use, when they should be used, etc. Additional information on this program will be provided this week as this information was shared with school districts over the holiday break.
Covid-19 Screening Testing for Students: As you know we are awaiting the start of the voluntary Covid-19 screening testing for students, which will be conducted by nurses from the Institute for Family Health. The Institute for Family Health is diligently working to prepare for the rollout of this screening program for our students. Once the screening operation is underway, additional interested student participants will be added. More information will be coming soon.
In closing, at this time we are planning to continue to educate our students in person, five days per week. However, the current situation in the county is quite dynamic at this moment. A shift to remote instruction could be triggered by increasing positivity rates and the impact they have on maintaining a safe environment for students and staff. We’re doing our best to prevent such a shift, but our families may wish to consider their needed response if it becomes necessary. Students should be sure to take home any necessary materials on a daily basis in order to be prepared.
If you are in possession of a Covid-19 rapid test, I encourage the testing of your child(ren) before they return to school tomorrow. If the result is positive, be sure to report it to the Ulster County Department of Health, and to your school nurse.
We ask for continued diligence in making safe choices to slow the spread of Covid-19 so that we can keep our schools open for student learning. If your child is not feeling well, please keep him/her home. If you have concerns that the symptoms may be Covid-related, we encourage you to get tested. Our school health office staff is available to answer questions or provide guidance. Please do not hesitate to reach out with a question or concern.
Free COVID-19 Rapid Test
The New Paltz Central School District has received Covid-19 rapid tests from the Ulster County Department of Health for distribution to our students. The district has one test kit for every student. The tests are being provided to help families make responsible and informed decisions over winter break as we gather with friends and family members. Instructions are included with the test kits on their use and include guidance on what to do in case of a positive Covid-19 test result.
Test kits can be picked up or sent home with your child in their backpack with your permission.
Test pickups will take place on:
Wednesday, December 22
11:00 - 2:00 and 4:00 - 6:00
At District Office 1 Eugene L. Brown Drive
If you are interested in receiving a Covid-19 test kit, please complete the form below.
December 7, 2021 Superintendent's Update
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We appreciate the attention our school community is giving to our COVID-19 protocols. Continued vigilance, following health protocols, and staying home when sick are necessary steps to preventing the spread of illness in school.
Keeping our school and community safe is the cornerstone of all of our decisions. Our approach for implementing our safety protocols meets or exceeds the minimum standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), and the Ulster County Department of Health (UCDOH). We also recognize the hardship that keeping children home places on working parents and the learning loss that occurs when our students are not in school.
Changes in Protocols
As our medical community continues to learn more about the virus and its spread, and the levels of vaccination participation in ages five and up continues to grow, we may adapt our procedures as necessary and permitted.
On a district level, we have recently made two changes.
- The CDC guidelines call for students or staff to be free from a fever or other COVID-19 symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to school. Our District’s protocols took a more conservative approach and had required individuals to wait 48 hours. At this time, we are reducing this requirement to the esser CDC timeframe of 24 hours.
- Quarantine requirements for close contacts are typically 10 days from the date of last exposure while self-monitoring for symptoms occurs for 14 days. Except in certain circumstances, people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine. However, the following people with recent exposure now may be exempt from quarantine:
- People who have been fully vaccinated (meaning 14 days after the second vaccine shot) AND are symptom-free AND remain symptom-free, can continue to attend school in person. However, we strongly encourage that they be tested three  to five  days after exposure and wear a mask indoors for 14 days or until they receive a negative NAAT or PCR diagnostic test result.*
- People who were previously diagnosed with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case within the last three months AND do not have any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
*Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR) or a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT)
We will continue to work with the UCDOH and closely monitor the COVID-19 transmission rate within our school buildings and community. If we see an increase in cases following these less-restrictive guidelines, we may return to the former 48-hour waiting period or reinstate the use of other tools, such as the daily COVID-screening attestation or temperature-taking.
As winter weather forces people into more indoor activities we would also like to remind parents of the process for addressing illness found below. We also encourage parents to review the guidance the CDC offers for Activities, Gatherings & Holidays.
When to Keep Your Child Home
Anytime your child has a fever, and until they have been fever-free, without the use of a fever-reducer, for at least 24 hours.
Your child is experiencing any new or worsening COVID-19 symptoms.
In the past 10 days, your child has been tested for COVID-19 and is awaiting results OR has received positive results.
Your unvaccinated child has been in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19.
Please note that UCDOH makes all decisions on quarantining individuals who have been exposed and may make exceptions if your child had a positive lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last three  months OR has been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days prior to exposure AND is not experiencing symptoms.
If Your Child Develops Symptoms
They will be isolated and sent home from school.
If your child is already home, please notify the school nurse and immediately seek the advice of your health care provider (HCP).
If a student is symptomatic following a dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and their symptomatology follows a typical course (three  to four  days after dosage) then proof of vaccination may be accepted to remain or return to school.
Returning to School After Symptoms
You must provide either a negative PCR or NAAT test result OR a note from your healthcare provider with the following information:
A diagnosis of a known chronic condition with unchanged symptoms OR a diagnosis of a laboratory-confirmed acute illness.
A statement that symptoms are NOT COVID-19 related.
If your child is not evaluated by an HCP or a COVID-19 test is recommended but not done and no alternative diagnosis is provided, your child must remain at home and is not able to return back to school until at least 10 days have passed since the first date of symptoms, AND your child’s symptoms are improving, AND your child is fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicines for 24 hours.
Returning to School After Quarantine
If your child was quarantined by the UCDOH, they will provide an official release from quarantine, which must be supplied to the school nurse before your child can return to school.
Students and staff members may not return to school unless:
Appropriate documentation has been provided.
The parent or staff member has spoken with the school nurse.
The nurse has cleared the student or staff member to return.
Please visit our updated District COVID-19 Information and Resources for additional information and resources. If your child[ren] is experiencing any mental health concerns such as increased anxiety or depression, please know they are not alone and we encourage you to contact their school building’s social workers for support.
We have had good results from having operated during this school year with an abundance of caution, as evidenced by our District’s low COVID-19 transmission rate. We attribute this to the diligence of our entire school community. To ensure our continued success, please remember to keep your child[ren] home when sick and follow all CDC recommendations.
Superintendent of Schools
Ulster County "Vax to School" Clinic at NPHS on October 23
Dear Parents and Guardians,It has been wonderful to see our students here every day. Preventing illness and limiting the number of quarantines necessary are both essential components to maintain our five-day school schedules. Vaccinations are one tool available to help with both.New York State has launched a "Vax to School" initiative to make vaccinations convenient. New Paltz High School will be a vaccination site on Saturday, October 23, from 10 AM-5 PM.Below is a list of other vaccine clinics that will be held in local high schools through the "Vax to School" program. You can access vaccinations at any of the sites below. Registration is necessary (see details below). Children aged 12 and up are currently eligible.Of course, if you have any questions about the vaccine, please consult your family physician or visit the Ulster County's FAQs page: https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/faqs/Ulster County VAX sites will be open from 10 AM to 5 PM on the following dates and locations:October 23 • New Paltz High School, 130 S Putt Corners Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561October 24 • Onteora High School, 4166 NY-28, Boiceville, NY 12412November 13 • Ellenville High School, 28 Maple Ave., Ellenville, NY 12428November 14 • Highland High School, 320 Pancake Hollow Rd., Highland, NY 12528November 20 • Marlboro High School, 50 Cross Rd., Marlboro, NY 12542To register for an appointment, please visit the Ulster County COVID Vaccination Resource Center: https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/vaccine-resource-center/ The link works best with the Google Chrome browser. When you arrive for your appointment, be sure to have your printed/screenshot registration ticket and an ID that shows proof of eligibility.Thank you for your efforts to help keep our school communities safe. Our collective efforts are making a difference.Sincerely,Angela Urbina-MedinaSuperintendent of Schools
September 28, 2021 - COVID-19 Screening Information
Dear New Paltz Families,
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) recently released information regarding COVID-19 testing in school which states that the District must offer COVID-19 screening testing for unvaccinated students, on a weekly basis, in geographic areas identified by the CDC as having moderate, substantial, or high transmission rates. Currently our geographic area is identified as a high transmission area, therefore, the district is offering weekly screening testing for any unvaccinated students who wish to be tested.
This COVID-19 screening testing is optional and your child is not required to be tested. Any parent/guardian who wishes to have their child tested weekly for COVID-19 must complete a form, accessible via this link, no later than Tuesday, October 5, 2021. Completing this form will help us to plan accordingly.
The district is working with Ulster County who will be supplying the Binex nasal swab rapid tests along with nursing staff to administer the tests. Yesterday, Monday, September 27, we began the weekly screening testing of our unvaccinated school staff members and those vaccinated members who wish to be screened. Once we have finished collecting data on the number of children that need to be screened, we will finalize the details and send out a communication notifying you when the weekly screening will begin.
If you have any questions, please contact 845-256-4020 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
August 10, 2021 Superintendent's Update
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
August has already arrived, and we hope that you are using both a good sunscreen and an effective umbrella. I wanted to address any questions or concerns you might have about the upcoming school year, and to share information from the District Administration and the Board of Education about our decision-making processes.
Some revisions have been made to the academic calendar which impact previously scheduled days off. Please note that we have changed the first day of school to Wednesday, September 8, rather than Thursday, September 9. A printed 2021-2022 school calendar will soon be mailed to all families.
Every public school district in New York State is required to implement and abide by the policies, guidance, and directives established by the New York State Education Department (NYSED), which is informed by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). On August 5, NYSDOH issued a statement that reestablished school districts themselves as the controlling entity for schools, advising them to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health departments. This could potentially create delays in releasing specific details of reopening, as county officials around the state must first engage in their own decision-making processes to determine what, if any, guidance, advice, and support shall be offered to school districts. We are actively engaged in conversations with local health officials and working on designing a plan, which you will be hearing about in the last week of August or sooner.
What We Know
The Delta variant has been looming all summer as a direct threat to the unvaccinated population, which includes children younger than 12. On July 27, CDC updated their guidance for fully vaccinated people, recommending that everyone wear a mask in indoor public settings in areas of substantial and high transmission, regardless of vaccination status. Given the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant, please plan to have your child returning to school masked. NPCSD will be requiring masks for both students and staff in all indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. We still strongly encourage our school community to get vaccinated to reduce the transmission and spread of COVID.
The District will continue to require three  feet of social distance, where possible. Classrooms and meals are currently being configured with these guidelines, which were in place, per NYSED, when we concluded the school year in June.
School will resume for a full five  days per week of in-person instruction on the first day of school. President Joe Biden and New York State officials have asked districts to encourage all students to return to school. That said, there are no remote or hybrid educational models for the coming school year. Please note this could change with updated NYSED or NYSDOH guidance.
We are pausing extracurricular transportation for this coming school year. Students will still be transported to after-school childcare.
We expect that NYSED may still release updated guidelines and directives at some point, but we do not know when that will be. The longer this information is delayed, the more challenging it becomes to implement, and some decisions may not be able to be finalized until after the school year has begun.
We are working behind the scenes to frame out various models of schedules, transportation, meal arrangements, building and classroom configurations, and more.
What We Don’t Yet Know
We do not yet know how we will configure school sports, spectatorship, extracurricular activities, school events, and performing arts.
A decision will be made next week about the YMCA before/after school childcare.
We do not know what the State or county’s criteria and threshold of regional positivity cases will be for limiting building capacity and/or shutting down schools.
Our Commitments to You
We will continue to inform you of updates as we receive them.
We will continue to use multiple platforms to convey important information such as alerts, emails, robocalls, texts, District website, individual school pages, etc. Please note that nothing is ever published on social media that is not published on other platforms as well.
We will continue to strongly advocate for the health and safety of our students and staff. We are adding three  new social workers to assist students as they transition back to school in September. We are prepared to meet the needs of those students who are in crisis or may be struggling with social-emotional issues. We are hiring a Director of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), who will offer additional oversight, accountability, and coordination of services within our organization and with our community partners.
We will continue to preemptively plan around what we know and what guidance we believe may occur.
Thank you for your ongoing support and understanding. It is up to us to keep COVID-19 out of our wonderful school community, and we can all work together to do that by wearing masks, getting tested when you have symptoms, staying home when we are sick, and getting vaccinated if we are eligible.
I will be in touch soon.
Angela Urbina-Medina, Superintendent of Schools
FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit
Dear parents and caregivers,
The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance of connectivity and access to information. We want to make sure that everyone is aware of a new program available through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which will temporarily pay $50 a month toward cable or broadband internet services for those who qualify.
Beginning on May 12, 2021, households can apply in three ways:
1.) Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process;
2.) Visit GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you;
3.) Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.
A flyer is attached with additional information.