District Update - 11/27/20

November 27, 2020

Greetings Families and all in the Holley Schools Community,

I sincerely hope that this message finds you well following a happy Thanksgiving. I want to update you on a few important issues regarding our response to the rise in COVID-19 cases in our region.

As I’m sure you’ve seen, most of Erie County and part of Monroe County have moved into what NYS is referring to as an ORANGE Zone. While in this zone, many “non-essential” businesses will be closed, gatherings will be limited in size, and schools must shift to a fully remote learning system for at least four days. We all need to work together to do our best to prevent our region from getting to this level.

Prior to moving to an ORANGE zone, areas get placed in a YELLOW zone if their COVID rates reach certain defined levels. If a school district is located in a YELLOW zone, in order to remain open for in-person learning, the district must test 20% of its on-campus population of students and staff. As long as the school district’s test results remain lower than their region, they can remain open for in-person students. Testing in a YELLOW zone is optional for students, but again, we need to test 20% a week.

Our district is not in a YELLOW zone at this time and we hope to stay that way. However, if we do find ourselves in a YELLOW zone, we are prepared to have our nurses test the 20% of on-campus students and staff required to remain open. Our nurses and staff will be trained, we will be provided free test kits from NYS and Orleans County, and we will be using the rapid response (shallow nostril) tests, not the deep nasal swabs you may have seen demonstrated or even personally experienced. The tests are painless, take a few seconds to administer, and only 15 minutes to process to get a result.

In order to test the required amount of students, we will need parent permission. We will not test students without proper consent.  We will be sending an email to families and posting an electronic form on our website and on social media sites that parents will be asked to respond to, indicating if you agree to have your child take a rapid response COVID-19 test at school. Look for this form from our district next week. To be clear, in a YELLOW zone, parents can “opt out” of testing. However, please know that if we were to move to an ORANGE zone, any student who wishes to return to in-person learning must be tested and have a negative result. Then once in ORANGE, 25% of all persons (students and staff) on campus must be tested, and the result must show that the rate is lower than the regional average to remain in-person for each week in the ORANGE zone.

Staying safe in our school district and in our community takes an effort from all of us. At school, we’re going to be having students keep masks on in classrooms, and we’ll remain as diligent as possible with physical distancing and our cleaning practices. We know that in order to remain open for in-person learning and to hopefully increase the number of days our students can report to school in the future, we need to be smart and as safe as possible now. Thank you for supporting these efforts at home and for doing your part to be safe in the community to help stop the spread of the virus.

As we approach December and the holiday season, I wish good health and well-being to all. For all the challenges and disappointments we’ve experienced this year, we still have much to be thankful for. I’m especially thankful to work with an amazing staff and incredible students, and for such a caring and compassionate community.

Stay Strong, Holley!

Brian Bartalo
Superintendent of Schools

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