The past week has brought much optimism for a return to normalcy for public schools throughout the nation and New York State. The CDC has made revisions to their guidance documents for the re-opening of schools, and New York State has taken a stance that they are supportive of students returning to in-person learning as much as possible. In the CDC guidance, they have metrics for community positivity rates on a 7-day average that will allow schools to re-open for full in-person learning if desired. Traditionally, New York State and the State Department of Health have required schools to "adopt" the CDC recommendations prior to being able to implement them; however, there appears to be a change, of course, this time around and the Governor is placing the responsibility for a full re-opening of schools on local governments. There are many reasons why this is a positive for our community and we have already begun talks with Oneida County and the State regarding full-time in-person instruction. There remain two unanswered questions and/or hurdles, which are transportation and feeding students in schools. The CDC guidance does not address these issues further and without a clear understanding of distancing requirements on school buses, it's tough to plan transportation models or even know if there are enough buses to transport. Regardless, we are much closer to a return to 5-day in-person learning than we were 2 weeks ago. It is important to remember that a return to full in-person learning does not mean that students are required to learn in-person. New York State has allowed students to learn completely virtually for the 2020-2021 school year. What full in-person learning means is a student will either be in school 5 days a week or learning completely virtually. In school students will be required to wear a mask, but social distancing may be less than 6-feet. The Rome City School District has been working to make sure that as soon as we have the permission to allow for more students in our buildings, that we are prepared to open 5 days a week as soon as possible. It is evident that this will happen in New York State and Oneida County before the end of the year, and clearly most likely much earlier than that. If you are interested in reading the CDC guidance, please see that information here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/operation-strategy.html. In preparation for a return to full in-person learning, we are also launching a ThoughtExchange to learn more about the concerns that parents have for their children as they return to full in-person learning. The exchange will be open until Friday, February 26 at 5:00 p.m. The results of the exchange will help our team ensure that we are as prepared as possible to support students when things open up more. The link for the ThoughtExchange is: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/114622755. It has been a long road for sure, but for those that desire a full in-person learning experience, we are much closer today than we have been at any point over the last 11 months.
NYS Travel Requirements
Just a reminder to anyone that has decided to travel outside of New York State for more than 24 hours this week of the State's travel requirements as set forth by the Department of Health. This link will take you to their website which has detailed information on the travel requirements upon returning to New York State: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory
A summary of the requirements is below:
For any traveler to New York State from a noncontiguous state, US territory, or CDC level 2 and higher country, the new guidelines for travelers to test-out of the mandatory 10-day quarantine are below:
- For travelers who were out-of-state for more than 24 hours:
- Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure, prior to arrival in New York.
- The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
- On day 4 of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test. If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.
- For travelers who were out-of-state for less than 24 hours:
- The traveler does not need a test prior to their departure from the other state and does not need to quarantine upon arrival in New York State.
- However, the traveler must fill out our traveler form upon entry into New York State, and take a COVID diagnostic test 4 days after their arrival in New York.
RFA & Strough Science Fair
The Rome Academy of Sciences is looking for students in grades 7-12 that are interested in entering the 2021 Virtual Science Fair. Both individuals and teams may enter into the science fair in any one of 14 different categories. For more information on the science fair, including a link for registration, please view their flyer at: https://app.peachjar.com/flyers/2010814/districts/32521
The College Board has developed a virtual college fair for current sophomores and juniors in high schools throughout the country. Whether you've already started your college search or have no idea where to begin, they want to connect you with colleges that might be a good fit for you. BigFutures Days gives you a chance to get information about multiple colleges from college admissions offices and current college students. For more information, please visit https://app.peachjar.com/flyers/2001210/districts/32521