Message from Superintendent Evans re: COVID-19 testing, test-to-stay protocol, shortened isolation periods for vaccinated staff members and more

Dear Monticello CSD Community and Staff Members,

Happy new year! I hope all of you enjoyed your holidays and that you are well.

The last several weeks have been very dynamic in developments around COVID-19. We plan to keep our schools open for in-person instruction for as long as we have enough staff to safely supervise them. We, too, however, are receiving increased numbers of staff members testing positive for COVID-19.

I. Weekly Testing of Staff Members and Students

We have been testing all unvaccinated staff members and any interested vaccinated staff members, weekly, since the fall (with a minor interruption). This testing will continue. We also expect to have this weekly testing available for interested students (with written parental permission) later in January.

II. Test-to-Stay Exploration

The district is expected to receive approximately 2,900 rapid test kits from the New York State Department of Health in the next few days. We are planning to use these kits for a test-to-stay (TTS) protocol that would allow asymptomatic and unvaccinated close contacts of confirmed, COVID-19 positive school-related cases to remain in school. These school-related close contacts (i.e., students and staff) would be tested three times over a seven-day period: As long as they test negative and remain asymptomatic, they can remain in school.

We have begun discussions with Sullivan County Public Health Services to explore TTS. SCPHS needs to approve TTS for all Sullivan County school districts, first, before we can implement it.

Students and staff members who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are to remain home, get tested, and seek medical help if necessary. Symptomatic students and staff are not eligible for TTS.

III. Shortened Isolation Period for Vaccinated Staff

The New York State Department of Health has reduced the isolation/quarantine period for COVID-19 positive vaccinated individuals (only) from 10 days to five (5) days so long as they meet certain criteria. In addition to being fully vaccinated, the staff member would need to have improving or resolved symptoms, and have no fever for 72 hours without fever-reducing medication. Please note that this shortened isolation period is only relevant to vaccinated staff members; it does not apply to students. 

IV. Vaccination Clinics

Sullivan County Public Health Services (SCPHS) continues to offer COVID-19 vaccinations for all. Its next pediatric clinic (for 5–11 year-olds) is on January 26, 2022. For a schedule of SCPHS vaccination clinics, please click here.

Local health care providers and pharmacies also offer COVID-19 vaccinations. Please contact them individually for more details.

V. Symptomatic?

Please Stay Home If you or your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and get tested. If the symptoms are extreme, please seek medical help. Every sick student or staff member that reports to school exposes others to the disease. Each case occupies nurses and staff in addressing the issue and conducting contact tracing.

We will continue to check student and staff members’ temperatures daily, upon their arrival to school.

Every symptomatic or COVID-19 positive case requires significant attention from our nurses and administration. The strategies listed above—TTS and the shortened isolation period—are designed to keep students and staff in schools and schools open; they, too, require attention from our nurses and administration.

We appreciate your cooperation as partners in this work to keep our schools safe, clean, and open. I wish you the best of everything in 2022!

With Monti Pride,

Matthew T. Evans, Ed. D.

Superintendent of Schools