Letter: How to Keep Everyone Safe When Schools Reopen

Dear Members of the Community,

I am speaking as a physician in the community, a parent in the district, and not representing the entirety of the board.

We are all in this together!

The Elwood School District has done a stellar job with regard to the pandemic for the past 18 months. With the attention to detail, and input from multiple areas of the community Elwood SD was able to maintain the safety and wellness of all children present in our schools.

This was done by following protocols and guidelines set forth by the CDC, AAP, NYS DOH Suffolk DOH, and a community task force made up of multiple different representatives of our friends, neighbors, and school district personnel.

As the evolution of our knowledge of Covid-19 changed, so did our district. As the case counts and numbers reduced, so did some of the mitigation strategies.

Ultimately we were able to have most students present in the buildings for
full-time in-person learning.

We have learned that in-person learning is of the greatest benefit for all of our students, staff and teachers. We need everyone in the school buildings this coming year. Remote learning is not ideal and should only be used if absolutely necessary. We all have seen, up close and personal, the risk to our students during the periods of isolation and shutdown during the worst days of the
pandemic.

In order to make full return to school a priority we must ensure the safety of all present in the school buildings. We must protect our most vulnerable and our children from Covid-19 and its variants.

During May and June, we were able to enjoy a reduction in some of the precautions needed to mitigate the spread of Covid 19. With vaccination rates against Covid 19 on the rise and the cases and hospitalizations reduced, we were able to follow guidelines of reduced mask wearing while indoors.

Unfortunately with the rise of the Delta variant and other variants on the horizon, increased cases and increased hospitalization, we must return to stricter strategies to ensure safety of all.

We must protect those that are unable to be vaccinated as of yet, and our children under 12. We must protect those that are immunocompromised or under vaccinated. In order to do that we have to practice a layered mitigation strategy.

This includes the following:
If eligible we should get vaccinated, speak to your doctor for any issues you may have. We must have our children practice hand hygiene with soap and water for at least 20 secs, if unavailable then use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

We must stay home when sick, and check with your provider if Covid testing is necessary to return to school.

Finally, we must all wear our masks when indoors especially in school regardless of vaccination status during times and periods of high transmission.

All of these strategies have been proven to reduce transmission and will allow us to have all of our children return to school in the safest way possible. We are trying to protect everyone in order to have 100% return for 100% of our students for the fall.

We are all in this together!

Thank you.

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