Union Free School District
- Hastings-on-Hudson U.F.S.D.
- District COVID-19 Updates
District COVID-19 Updates
3.3.22 COVID-19 Procedure Update
March 3, 2022
Dear Hastings Families and Staff,
We took a big step this week by shifting to mask-optional schooling. Wednesday was a good day for students and staff, with respect shared among and between those who did or did not wear masks. I met over lunch Wednesday with Student Union representatives, who shared good reports on student and staff interactions. Today, based on what I observed in Hillside classrooms and hallways, being mask-optional is proving positive for students and staff district-wide.
Late Tuesday evening, we received the anticipated joint New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and New York State Education Department (NYSED) statement on modified COVID-19 requirements and guidelines now that masks are optional. Due to dramatic reductions in the prevalence of COVID-19, many of the requirements have been relaxed. Nevertheless, NYSDOH/NYSED requires several steps to promote student and staff health. Additionally, there are recommended measures that we should follow, such as consistently washing hands, staying home when ill, and continuing to maintain a responsible distance from others when possible.
Please find a listing below of revised mitigation measures that will be implemented immediately in Hastings. These items supersede all previous, related requirements. (We will be updating the COVID-19 Management Plan, 2021-22 as soon as possible.)
The wearing of masks is now optional on school buses. Physical distancing, when possible, is encouraged.
Return to School/Work Following Contracting COVID-19
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 are required to self-isolate for a period of five (5) days, with day “0” being the first day of symptoms or the positive test. Individuals may return to school/work following the five-day isolation if their symptoms have lessened and they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours.
Upon returning to school, individuals must wear masks during Days 6 – 10 of their isolation period. This will be an honor system; we will not track the individual mask-use.
For the immediate future, the District will continue to perform contact tracing for each positive case of COVID-19. To the greatest degree possible, we will be informing close contacts who are unvaccinated.
Per the NYSDOH, due to masks now being optional, the parameters for identifying close contacts will be broader. For example, due to masks not being worn by some school community members, those who have 15 minutes or longer of contact within a six (6) foot radius of an individual will be considered close contacts. This is an increase from the three (3) foot radius which was applied when masks were required.
Quarantines and Test-to-Stay Program
We are no longer quarantining exposed students or staff. Exposed, asymptomatic individuals, regardless of vaccination status, may remain in school. It is recommended that such individuals appropriately wear a well-fitted mask and undergo recommended testing. These individuals may participate in school-based extracurricular activities and may also continue to ride the school bus.
With quarantines no longer required, the District will no longer operate a Test-to- Stay (TTS) program. Rather, the District will provide home COVID-19 test kits to unvaccinated individuals determined to be close contacts for recommended daily testing for a period of five (5) days after the last exposure. Please note: the daily testing will be only for unvaccinated individuals. Test kits will be available in each school’s health office.
To confirm, “unvaccinated” is defined as either (1) not receiving the full COVID-19 vaccine regime (either one or two doses, based on the type of vaccine); or, (2) having received the full vaccine regimen, but not yet boosted if age-eligible.
The District will continue to facilitate weekly Surveillance Testing as long as it continues to be sponsored by the Westchester County Department of Health.
Livestream will continue as an option only for students who are confirmed COVID-19 positive and are out of school due to the required isolation period. The one exception will be that the livestream will be available to students in a household with a confirmed positive case of COVID-19. Families should coordinate with their relevant principal on accessing the livestream for their student(s).
Lunch and Snack Time
Beginning Monday, March 7th, schools will resume traditional lunch experiences with fewer restrictions on physical distancing. At Farragut Middle School and Hillside, table barriers will no longer be used. At Hillside, classes will eat snacks together in classrooms or outdoors, as has been traditionally done.
What Should I Do if My Child Has COVID-like Symptoms?
When one is ill, they should always stay home. Home testing is encouraged at the onset of symptoms and the individual should remain home when symptomatic. They may return to school the following day if their symptoms have improved and the parent/guardian has communicated with the school nurse about negative home COVID-19 test results. To be clear, home antigen COVID-19 tests are now acceptable to document a negative result. Free test kits are available in each school’s health offices.
School Visitors/School Events
Within the Regular School Day – The District will continue to not allow visitors or outside events during the regular school day. We will re-evaluate these limitations in late March. The school community will be notified if any changes are made to the current limitations.
After-School – We will immediately open full access for audiences and spectators to after-school extracurricular events and programs. As always, we will attempt physical distancing at events as much as possible and masks may be worn by any individual.
We will reinstitute opportunities for indoor and outdoor field trips. Details on these opportunities will be conveyed when necessary by building principals.
Final Word – Pride
We should feel pride, especially for our students and staff members, who have shown tremendous resilience throughout the Pandemic. They have rallied together in countless ways to help Hastings continue to be a place of growth for learners and individuals.
I look forward to providing more updates on Hastings COVID-19 mitigation plans as they become available. Our aim is to build back as much flexibility as possible–as soon as possible.
William S. McKersie, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Mask update – Feb. 16, 2022
Dear Hastings Families and Staff,
I am writing regarding mask requirements in the Hastings-on-Hudson Union Free School District. As a reminder, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on February 9 that, after the Mid-Winter School Break, she would reevaluate the mask mandate for public schools in New York State.
In anticipation of a decision by Governor Hochul within the next two weeks, I want to announce the plans for the Hastings schools. The following plans are based on a careful review of data and information on vaccination and COVID-19 rates in our school community, consultation with our Medical Directors, and a review of likely steps in neighboring school districts.
What will occur if the NYS Mask Mandate is lifted?
If Governor Hochul lifts the mask mandate, Hastings will shift within several days of the announcement to masks being optional for students and staff. When the decision is known, we will immediately set a date certain for shifting to optional mask-use. We will require several days to assess the specific decision by the Governor and its implications for related mitigation strategies.
Hastings is able to shift to optional mask-use given our high rates of vaccination among students and staff, coupled with our low rates of COVID-19 infection.
- As of February 15, 87% of students K-12 have received at least two doses (Hillside, 81%; FMS, 87%; HHS, 94%) and 73% are fully vaccinated (Hillside, 81%; FMS, 74%; HHS, 65%). Vaccination rates for our staff are at least 95%.
- Over the past two weeks, our daily COVID-19 infection rates have been in the low single digits, and several times at zero.
How will lifting the mask mandate affect other COVID-19 protocols?
We have not received guidance from the State or Westchester County Department of Health on how a change in mask requirements would affect regulations and guidelines for physical distancing and quarantines. This is one reason for the several-day “grace period” between the Governor’s announcement regarding masks and the implementation date in Hastings. Changes in mask requirements, without modifications in physical distancing and quarantine requirements, may affect how we handle students or staff deemed to have been in close contact with a confirmed positive COVID-19 case. Once any ancillary effects to protocols are understood, we will inform families and staff. Unchanged will be the Surveillance Testing and Test-to-Stay programs.
What can we do between now and the time that masks are no longer mandatory?
Our administration, faculty, and staff have begun to plan. We also encourage families to take time to talk with their children in advance of any change to the mandate. There will be an adjustment period for all of us, and students need to be prepared to have classmates who make different choices. We will emphasize tolerance of choices among all members of our community. We are committed to fostering an environment where students feel respected, and we will provide support to all students as they navigate change. Please reach out to your building administrator with any specific issues that arise.
What if conditions change necessitating a local mask mandate in Hastings?
If COVID-19 rates revert to levels of concern in our schools, and public health and medical experts advise a return to mandated mask-use, I would consult with the Board of Education on the next step. We are not contemplating such a step, but we want families and staff aware of the process if necessary for public health and medical reasons.
Final Word: Focus on our Success
Hastings students and staff have been a national model this year for how to be constructive, productive, and widely supportive of each other in addressing COVID-19. We have effectively maximized our health and maintained in-person schooling all year. We have done so with respect and dignity for every student and staff member. As we shift into a new phase of dealing with COVID-19, we must continue our signature: respecting different views and approaches.
I will send a notice to families and staff promptly once I have formally heard the decision by Governor Hochul regarding the mask mandate. With that notice, we will set a date certain for the shift to optional use of masks in the Hastings public schools. Until then, please understand that masks must be worn at all times inside our schools and facilities.
William S. McKersie, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
February 7, 2021 - COVID-19 Management Plan What We Know Now — What We Are Working to Resolve
Evening Update Mask Mandate 1.25.22
Mask Update for 1.25.22
1.12.22 COVID Update
COVID-19 Update for January 2, 2022
12/09/21 Updated COVID-19 Management Document