At the October 1st Marlboro School Board meeting, Superintendent Michael Brooks addressed a letter that he sent out to the district’s families and staff. The letter noted that several staff and students may have been exposed to someone with Covid-19. Because three separate potential exposures may have occurred (away from school), the Orange and Ulster Counties Departments of Health are doing contact tracing that may require some staff and students to self quarantine for up to 14 days while awaiting a determination from the departments. Currently there are 11 staff members who are working from home in precautionary self-isolation while pending the outcome of testing and contact tracing.
The students who may have been exposed to Covid-19 will only be attending classes remotely upon the determination of the Department of Health and will not attend the first week of school in person.
“When you are or if you are contacted by the NYS Department of Health and a contact tracing team, please cooperate with them. It’s important that we figure out who could have potentially contracted the virus so we can isolate that person so there is no further spread”
Brooks stressed that the primary goal of the district’s ‘Return To Learn’ program is to, “maximize our time that our students and teachers are with each other as we begin this week with our in-person learning starting on Tuesday; very exciting.”
Brooks said the district is following all of the necessary safety protocols aimed at minimizing the transmission of illness; “It’s not just for Covid-19 but these are good practices of hygiene and cleaning.”
Brooks said the district acknowledges that there are significant challenges, “on every single aspect of this reopening project.” He also understands that anxiety levels are rising surrounding the re-opening of school.
“We want to make sure that we are careful with each other with every single difficult challenge that every one of us is facing,” he said. “If you need any assistance with anything, please make sure you reach out to us, we’re here to help...We’re pledging that every single day, every single class is a live experience for all of our children in all of our buildings.”
Brooks said a key part of the plan is how the district can maintain in- person learning. He said if a teacher or student is sick they should stay home and return only when they are well. Temperature checks are done at all of he main school entrances using hand held or walk through devices.
“If you have a fever you’re going to be sent home, we’re going to call parents back and we’re going to send staff members home,” he said. “We want well people in our buildings.”
Brooks said masks will be required, social distancing will be enforced, group sizes will be kept low while ensuring that good ventilation is maintained in the classrooms. In addition, windows and vents on the buses will be kept open.
“The more we do all of these things the more we will stay together in- person,” he said. “The less we do these things the more chance there is for the transmission of illness and the potential for short-term shutdowns, periodic shutdowns or segmented shutdowns.”
At the October 15th school board meeting Brooks said there will be another presentation that will focus on how things went during the first two weeks of in-person learning.
“We’re going to be getting some information to the board on setting some future goals and see how we would progress into the future for expanding our in-person learning, increasing the number of days our children are learning in our buildings and also the number of children in our buildings,” he said. “We still want to keep as our guiding light the goal of more time with our people in-person. Out ultimate goal is when do we come back to full Return to Learning and what steps do we need to do to get to that point.”