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11/20/20 – Important Message from Superintendent Migliori

Dear School Community:

The COVID-19 infection rate in Oneida County continues to increase and move closer to 3 percent. If the infection rate hits 3 percent, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) will declare the Mohawk Valley region/county, or parts of the Mohawk Valley region/county, a “yellow zone.” However, since my last video message to you on November 9, the requirements and restrictions resulting from a “yellow zone” designation have changed.  Westmo logo

In an effort to keep you as informed as possible, please watch my latest video message recorded on November 20.

In summary, per New York State, and effective this week:

·       Schools in “yellow zones” must now test 20 percent of in-person students, faculty and staff over a two-week period immediately following a “yellow zone” designation.

o   If the results reveal the positivity rate among the 20 percent of those tested is lower than the “yellow zone’s” current seven-day positivity rate, testing will not be required to continue. Consequently, a lower positivity rate demonstrates in-person instruction is not a significant driver of spread.

o   If the results reveal the positivity rate among the 20 percent of those tested is higher than the “yellow zone’s” current seven-day positivity rate, a school district must test 20 percent of its students, faculty and staff on a bi-weekly basis for in-person instruction to continue.

o   So far, positivity rates at schools, including here at Westmoreland, have remained low. The NYSDOH credits schools for remaining vigilant and faithful to all procedures and protocols.

·       If the Mohawk Valley region/Oneida County were to be designated as a “yellow zone,” the district has considered two options for testing.

o   The first option is participating in a testing consortium with other local school districts through the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES. However, the process for the consortium to apply for and receive a testing license or find a medical institution to conduct testing on the consortium’s behalf, has been challenging, will be costly and is not feasible at this time.

o   The second option removes the district from the testing process and, instead, asks 20 percent of the in-person population to voluntarily get tested on their own. For this to occur at Westmoreland, about 150 students and 30 faculty/staff members would have to voluntarily get tested.

o   Both options involve cost. However, for the second option, there are several free testing sites in Oneida County. Many sites accept insurance as well.

In order to determine if the district can meet the testing requirements necessary to remain open to in-person instruction, we need to know how many people are willing to voluntarily get tested. The failure to test 20 percent of our in-person population would require the district to convert to 100 percent remote instruction until the “yellow zone” designation is lifted.

*If you would like to volunteer to get tested, you can sign up here. Parents must sign up on behalf of their child/children. All information is confidential.*

Your feedback is critical. While we know schools, so far, are not “super spreaders” and the few positive cases here at Westmoreland have all been traced back to external sources, we need to meet testing requirements in order to remain open to in-person instruction. So, if your preference is to maintain in-person instruction should we be declared a “yellow zone,” we must secure enough volunteers to get tested.

Additionally, please remember the following:

·       We will be conducting a “Go Home Early” drill on Tuesday, November 24. As part of the drill, all students (in-person and remote) will be dismissed 15 minutes before their normal dismissal time. The drill fulfills the requirements of Section 155.17 in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education that requires each school district and BOCES in New York State to conduct an Emergency Management Plan drill.  

·       Instruction will be 100 percent remote for the week following Thanksgiving Recess (November 30-December 4) and the week following Holiday Recess (January 4-8).

·       Lunches will be provided to students during remote instruction. Parents – if would like your child or children to still receive lunch, please call (315) 557-2630 to sign up. Also – we will be handing out a three-day breakfast and lunch meal kit on Monday, November 23, after school, until 5:00 p.m. Pick-up will be at the back door entrance of the Primary Elementary School cafeteria.

Last, but not least, I would like to thank the district’s staff. We have been able to offer high-level in-person instruction for the past three months, with minimal interruptions, because of the hard work and diligence of our extremely dedicated staff. So, in the spirt of Thanksgiving, don’t forget to thank your child’s teachers, as well as administrators, nurses, counselors, secretaries, bus drivers, tech team, kitchen staff, maintenance staff, aides and assistants, for all they have been doing to create some type of normalcy. My thanks are also extended to the entire school community for diligently following our re-opening plan and being willing to do whatever it takes to provide in-person instruction. 

Have a great Thanksgiving, and be safe.

Sincerely,

Rocco Migliori
Superintendent of Schools

Click here to watch my video message recorded on November 20.