11-16-20 Micro-Cluster Guidance Update
November 16, 2020
Dear Williamsville Central School District Families and Staff,
I want to share with you that the District has been approved as a Limited Services Laboratory (LSL) and we are finalizing the process to partner with a third-party nursing agency to help meet the “Yellow Zone” testing requirements set forth by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). The District has also ordered COVID-19 tests from the state and is awaiting their delivery. Our goal is to maintain an educational environment that is as healthy and safe as possible.
Based on our conversations with the Erie Country Department of Health (ECDOH), the District will be receiving the BinaxNOW (non-invasive) COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test. You can view a demonstration of this test here: BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Demonstration.
As a reminder, students, faculty and staff members who are off-site (remote) are not required to be part of the testing per the NYSDOH guidance.
As of right now, the District remains in a designated “Yellow Zone.” Over the weekend, the NYSDOH released new guidance regarding COVID-19 testing. Pursuant to these guidelines, school districts now have two weeks to meet the necessary 20% weekly random testing requirements. In addition to this, if the positivity rate of those tests is below the positivity rate of the designated Yellow Zone, schools will not be required to continue to complete the bi-weekly testing requirement. You can read the updated guidance here: Guidance for Schools in Yellow Zone.
It is important to remember that we need to test 20% of our in-person population in order to keep our hybrid/hyflex instructional models in place. With all 13 of our schools in the “Yellow Zone,” approximately 1,735 COVID-19 tests would need to be completed on a bi-weekly basis. Please give serious consideration to participating in this process. If schools are unable to obtain consent to test 20%, they will be forced to pivot to temporary remote instruction pursuant to NYSDOH guidelines for failing to meet the testing requirement.
Orange Zone and Red Zone
As a reminder, if placed in a designated “Orange Zone” or “Red Zone,” pursuant to NYSDOH guidelines, the District will pivot to remote instruction for two weeks.
In order to be permitted to return to the building for in-person instruction, ALL students and staff, including teachers, facilities, child nutrition, aides, clerical personnel, would need to have a negative COVID-19 test within 7-days of our doors reopening in order to return on-site. As of today, this means more than 8,600 tests would have to be conducted in order to re-open our schools and resume in-person learning. In addition, we would have to meet a 25% weekly testing requirement.
That said, the testing metrics of “Orange Zone” and “Red Zone” designations are extremely tough to meet. If placed in an “Orange Zone” or “Red Zone,” the District will likely be forced to pivot to remote instruction until placed in a “Yellow Zone” or the micro-cluster designation is completely lifted.
In the midst of a global pandemic we not only need our school community, but all of Western New York, especially Erie County, to remain vigilant and steadfast when it comes to health and safety. We want to keep our schools open and continue our instructional models for as long as possible. However, we need everyone to do their part to help make this possible.
As always, please continue to use our Yellow, Orange, and Red Zone Information page as a reference. Please be sure to also review our Micro-Cluster Frequently Asked Questions document.
Dr. John E. McKenna
Acting Superintendent of Schools