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Schools in Herkimer BOCES region implement new COVID-19 guidance

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Herkimer BOCES

Herkimer Fulton Hamilton Otsego BOCES

HERKIMER, N.Y. -- Schools in the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES region are adopting updated COVID-19 guidelines designed to keep students and staff without symptoms in school by eliminating or shortening quarantines through additional testing.

Effective on Monday, Jan. 10, in the Herkimer BOCES region, students and staff who have a COVID-19 exposure but don't have any symptoms can remain in school by taking COVID-19 tests following the "test to stay" schedule. Students and staff who are fully vaccinated and boosted, if eligible, are already not required to quarantine in response to a COVID-19 exposure as long as their last shot was at least two weeks before the exposure.

The new plan also shortens other quarantines from 10 days to five as measured from the onset of symptoms, the date of a positive COVID-19 test or the date of a COVID-19 exposure. This change was put into effect as of Wednesday, Jan. 5.

School officials in the Herkimer BOCES region worked with Herkimer County Department of Public Health officials to implement the new regulations following new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and New York State Department of Health. This change was also made possible after the state provided additional COVID-19 tests to school districts across the state.

This guidance applies to all Herkimer BOCES programs and the following school districts: Central Valley, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Little Falls, Mount Markham, Owen D. Young, Poland, Richfield Springs and West Canada Valley; as well as the Town of Webb School District.

The "test to stay" option could be put on pause at any point based on the availability of testing supplies and resources, and schools would notify families if that occurs. These changes are also subject to adjustment based on additional guidance from the CDC and the state and county health departments.

For additional information specific to BOCES and each district such as how testing will be conducted and reported, please check your BOCES or school district website.

COVID-19 scenarios

Under the new COVID-19 guidelines put in place for the Herkimer BOCES region, most cases will fall under one of the four scenarios outlined below:

Scenario No. 1 – Students or staff members who are fully vaccinated (and boosted, if eligible) are exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case: The students or staff members will not need to quarantine and can remain in school as long as they remain free of symptoms.

Scenario No. 2 – Students or staff members who are not fully vaccinated (and boosted, if eligible) are exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case: The students or staff members will need to either quarantine for five days or follow the "test to stay" schedule to remain in school if they continue to stay free of symptoms and test negative for COVID-19. In this scenario, with day zero being the date of an exposure to COVID-19, the students or staff members would test for COVID-19 on days one, three and five.

Scenario No. 3: Students or staff members (regardless of vaccination status) test positive for COVID-19 but never develop symptoms: The students or staff members must quarantine for five days starting the day after the positive test date. The positive test result must be reported to the Herkimer County Public Health Department by calling 315-867-1176. The students or staff members can return to school on the sixth day, but must wear a well-fitting mask for days six through 10.

Scenario No. 4: Students or staff members (regardless of vaccination status) test positive for COVID-19 and develop symptoms: The students or staff members must quarantine for at least five days starting the day after the positive test date or onset of symptoms, whichever is first. The positive test result must be reported to the Herkimer County Public Health Department by calling 315-867-1176. If symptoms have improved and they don't have a fever, students or staff members can return to school on the sixth day, but must wear a well-fitting mask for days six through 10.

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