Virus guidance to schools ever-changing

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Granville Central School District.

Granville school superintendent Tom McGurl’s monthly report to the Board of Education on Jan. 10 was centered around Covid-19, including state guidance he received earlier that day.

“Everything I’m about to say is subject to change and probably will change,” McGurl said to begin his report.

Granville superintendent Tom McGurl

The process of reporting a positive test to the school district has changed, according to the state Department of Health.

“I do suspect that there are going to be more tweaks and changes to come to this, but we are moving to an honors system, essentially, in New York State for testing and reporting and this applies to schools as well,” McGurl said.

“If you take an at-home test and you test positive, you will need to go on the New York State website, it will register your information on the New York State website. My understanding is that it will generate a letter for you to bring to your employer or your school to say, ‘I am now positive.’

“That will put you in quarantine and you will then self-quarantine for the duration of whatever you or told by the county or the state. And my understanding is the state’s (website) is up-and-running today,” McGurl said.

Going forward, McGurl said the “enormous change” will feature the state notifying the general public of a required quarantine while the respective counties will be working with the schools on notifying students and parents.

“We’ve also been told that the idea of being fully vaccinated is about to change,” McGurl said.

“Right now, people that are outdated from their initial vaccines, their initial two doses, they are still considered fully vaccinated. We are anticipating within the next few days that we will be getting notice that if you do not have all three, then you are not fully vaccinated.”

As a result of the anticipated change, McGurl said more district employees will likely be added to the once-a-week pool testing required for unvaccinated employees and staff.

Washington County has designated compelling employees to work if asymptomatic as a school decision, but McGurl made it clear this is something he wants to stay away from.

“For example, when we had our bus driver situation, I could have compelled non-symptomatic bus drivers to come to work because they are essential to getting kids to school,” McGurl said. “My personal belief on this is right now we don’t need to use this and I’m hoping not to have to.”

McGurl attempted to clarify the question of quarantine time for district staff and students by providing an example of a Saratoga County-residing individual who works at Granville Central School District. That individual would follow Saratoga County’s adopted quarantine guidance, five days if asymptomatic or lessening symptoms, instead of Washington County’s 10 days.

“Whoever puts you in quarantine takes you out of quarantine is how we’re treating it,” McGurl said.

McGurl added the district is waiting on the state’s approval of Granville’s “Test-to-Stay” application to allow students to test negative while on quarantine to attend class in-person.

“I’ve heard anywhere from four days to four weeks to get that approved, obviously I’m hoping for four days,” he said.

This ruling currently only applies to students who contracted Covid-19 from school and must be approved by a parent or guardian’s signature and allows students to attend class but not extracurricular activities.

“Basically, you’re avoiding quarantine in order to go to class,” McGurl said. “I think you’ll probably see that one change as well because obviously it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If you’re okay to come to class then I guess you’re okay to participate in an activity after school.”

McGurl said both the Albany and WSWHE BOCES programs have sent a letter to NYSDOH Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett to “urge for a change in that area.”

As of Jan. 10, McGurl said students have begun to receive at-home tests to conduct for peace of mind. Again, the school district will only accept a certified lab-tested Covid-19 result

The three Granville schools have dealt with Covid cases all year long.

As of Jan. 10, McGurl said 82 students were on quarantine with 27 confirmed positive cases while 15 staff members were on quarantine with 11 confirmed positives.