The Westchester County health department’s warnings of a post-Thanksgiving virus surge have rung true in local schools, with the Bedford Central School District reporting 26 new cases since returning from last month’s holiday break Nov. 30.
According to a notice sent to community members this week by Superintendent Joel Adelberg, BCSD has “been experiencing a concerning spike in cases in our district and in the various communities that comprise the BCSD.”
He shared that within the last week alone, new cases of coronavirus were reported in Mount Kisco Elementary School, Pound Ridge Elementary School, Fox Lane High School and Fox Lane Middle School.
The case at MKES requires “a kindergarten class and a number of staff” to quarantine, while the case at PRES requires one of the school’s second-grade classrooms to quarantine. At FLMS, the positive case required “all 8-S students, hybrid one and two” to learn remotely from home for the rest of the week. Similarly, the reported case at FLHS required all classes for Monday, Dec. 7, to be conducted through remote learning.
Due to the increased volume of cases, notification of each positive case will be sent to the entire BCSD community from now on. Previously, notification was only sent to the affected school community and thereafter posted on the district website.
Katonah-Lewisboro schools already have in place a districtwide notification process for confirmed new virus cases.
The superintendent also provided an update on the school’s quarantine protocols. When BCSD learns of a positive case in one of its buildings, those families who need to keep their children home and those staff members who need to stay home are “identified and notified ASAP.” However, Mr. Adelberg clarified that the school district can only technically “exclude” a member of the staff or student from attending school. An order to quarantine can only come from the Department of Health. Therefore, he noted, community members might notice two dates in notification letters — the date of anticipated quarantine and the date that BCSD has identified for return to school.
“Since contact tracing is taking longer than expected due to the escalating number of cases
throughout New York at this time, we will provide the anticipated dates of quarantine, using the metrics provided by the Department of Health,” Mr. Adelberg explained.
Although the CDC recently adjusted its guidance on the number of days of quarantine from 14 days to seven days in most cases, the school district is required to follow the direction of the New York State Department of Health. At this time the NYSDOH still considers 14 days as the necessary quarantine period.
If the current spike in cases continues and the district is identified as an orange or red micro-cluster zone, Mr. Adelberg shared that BCSD will “work with the Westchester County Department of Health and will commence testing under their license.” The state health department will provide the test kits to the district and school nurses will complete a required testing module allowing them to administer the tests. District physician Dr. Louis Corsaro would oversee the testing program. The test given at school would be “relatively easy” to administer and provide results within 15 minutes, according to the superintendent. Any individual who tests positive would be isolated from others and sent to their own medical provider for further testing.
Community members should expect to receive a separate notification in the coming days with a consent form for this in-school rapid testing.
Mr. Adelberg acknowledged “these are increasingly anxious times for all of us,” but assured community members that “we all remain committed to keeping our schools safe for all students and staff.”
To view the superintendent’s most recent communication, visit bcsdny.org.