Remote Learning and COVID Testing of Students and Staff at Brewster Schools

In a letter to district parents and the community dated January 7th, 2021, The Brewster Central School District Administration said they believe that they have developed a sustainable plan for keeping the schools open for in-person instruction. Below is a transcript of the letter:
Dear Parents/Guardians,
We believe that we have developed a sustainable plan for keeping our schools open for in-person instruction despite the high infectivity rate in our community as well as the changing (and sometimes lacking) guidance from Albany.

As you know, we have been dealing with moving goalposts regarding infectivity rates, zone designations, and geographic areas that would include/qualify us for any particular designation.  As recently as this week the Governor stated that schools located in a county with a 9% infectivity rate would need to test in order to stay open for in-person instruction.  The Department of Health then clarified that it would be the regional (including area outside of just the county) rate that would trigger this requirement (today’s regional 7-day average is 8.2% and Putnam County’s 7-day average is 9.8%).  

It is time for us to stop waiting for a designation and to take action that collects information on our in-person infectivity rate within the school community.  Doing this will allow us to continuously evaluate this data as well as safely reopen (and continue to stay open) for in-person instruction.  To that end, we are enacting the following plan in the interest of health and safety:
  • All Brewster schools will remain remote the week of January 11th - 15th.  As Monday, January 18th is a planned holiday due to the observance of Dr. King’s birthday, our first day of in-person instruction will be on Tuesday, January 19th for Cohort B and Wednesday, January 20th for Cohort A.
  • Tomorrow morning (Friday, January 8th), we will be sending you two items: a testing form and a FAQ document that answers any questions that you may have regarding testing.
  • We ask that all consent forms be returned by this Monday morning, January 11th.
  • We will randomly select 10% of our in-person population who provides consent for testing.  Those individuals selected will receive notice by Monday afternoon for testing appointments Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week.
  • At the end of next week, we will examine our in-school positivity rate from that sample.
  • We will commit to a bi-weekly testing protocol for 10% of our in-person student and staff population through the end of February.

It is our hope that this random sampling provides additional information regarding our in-school infectivity rate and allows us a way to continually monitor that rate in conjunction with data on community infectivity rates provided by the Department of Health.  We want our students back for in-person instruction in a way that is sustainable and consistent.  This extended period allows us to lay the groundwork for a two-month testing protocol that will do even more to keep students and staff healthy.

We are sure that you have questions, which we will aim to address in the FAQ document that we will send tomorrow morning.  We thank you for working through this with us and for all that you do each day to support what is in the best interest of our students.

Dr. Laurie Bandlow / Dr. Michelle Gosh / Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy    


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