At this time, Orange County continues to not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 but we know our school community continues to be concerned about its spread as media outlets continue to report about it.
Minisink Valley, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Education Department believe that early, broad and sustained community containment strategies are effective in reducing the spread of the virus. Our federal, state and local health professionals continue to reinforce to all of us that most people in the United States have little immediate risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control are also strongly reminding us:
- Viruses cannot target people from specific populations, ethnicities, or racial backgrounds.
- People from affected countries that live in the U.S. may be worried or anxious about friends and relatives who are living in the region. Facing stigma can make fear and anxiety worsen. Social support during this outbreak can help them cope.
- People who have returned from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 more than 14 days ago and do not have symptoms are not infected with the virus and contact with them will not give you the virus.
- The U.S. government is responding to the outbreak and updating Travel Health Notices, as needed
Additionally, Minisink Valley is continuing to follow the guidance provided to us — and all school districts — and will follow any mandates that may be issued.
As an example, the Orange County Health Department will notify schools if and when a school must close due to COVID-19 and when a school can reopen. Please know that should this ever be the case, we will work in close collaboration and coordination with the state and local health officials before closing school and/or cancelling large events and provide as much advance notice as possible through our website, social media and existing push notification communication tools.
Additionally, and according to the New York State Health Department guidance issued on March 9: When a student or staff member attended school prior to being confirmed as a COVID-19 case, the New York State Department of Health requires an initial 24-hour closure, in order to begin an investigation to determine the contacts that the individual may have had within the school environment. That investigation will inform the plan determined by the local department of health as to any further required closure, or other necessary precautions to take for specific classrooms, or for specific individuals. Such plans must recommend actions for future positive COVID-19 cases as well.
Further, the district is postponing decisions about give back days/unused snow days as we monitor this fluid situation. It is not prudent to designate their use at this time.
Please know that our Buildings and Grounds staff are doing herculean work to ensure all of our buildings are cleaned and sanitized on a daily/evening/weekend basis for our students, faculty and staff. You can help us in this effort by reminding your children about the importance of washing hands, the proper way to cover their coughs/sneezes and keeping your children home if they are sick.
Please visit the district’s Coronavirus Preparedness page on this website for useful information and resources.
Thank you for your continued trust in safeguarding the health, safety and security of your children while they are in school. This is our first priority. We will remain vigilant in our efforts to help prevent the spread of this illness and all other illnesses. We appreciate your attention to the information we are providing and will continue to reach out with any updated information when needed.
Brian C. Monahan