Weekly Update from the Office of the Superintendent
November 20, 2020
We have provided a great deal of information following Wednesday's announcement that the Ken-Ton School District, along with most of Erie County, is now in an Orange Zone Micro-Cluster. You can find all of these communications and information compiled in one webpage: www.ktufsd.org/Page/19378

By now, most of our community understands what it means to be in an Orange Zone. All schools must transition to fully remote learning, which takes effect Monday. We do not know how long we will remain in an Orange Zone. The state has established guidelines that dictate the transition from an Orange Zone to a Yellow Zone:

  • The positivity rate (measured as a seven-day rolling average) must be declining over a 10-day period.
  • For the final three days of that 10-day period, the positivity rate must be below 2%.
  • The NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) may take other factors into account.

It is important for our community to understand the challenges. In an Orange Zone, schools can only resume in-person instruction if they meet two requirements. First, the school cannot reopen without a negative COVID-19 test for every in-person student and staff member who would be in attendance. That means schools would have to ensure that 100% of in-person students and staff are tested before the school can reopen. To put that into perspective, these are the numbers of in-person students and staff who would need to be tested in each school in order to resume in-person instruction for all grade levels:

  • Edison Elementary: 528
  • Franklin Elementary: 480
  • Holmes Elementary: 280
  • Hoover Elementary: 555
  • Lindbergh Elementary: 441
  • Franklin Middle: 590
  • Hoover Middle: 701
  • Kenmore East: 1,136
  • Kenmore West: 1,245
  • Big Picture Program: 95
  • Total: 6,051 (these numbers do not include the approximately 1,600 students registered for fully virtual learning)

In addition, schools must be prepared to test 25% of all students and staff each week so that 100% of students/staff are tested once every four weeks. For Ken-Ton, this would be approximately 1,500 tests each week, which factors in all school staff and in-person students. Anyone who tests positive or who declines to be tested would not be able to attend school in person. This would be a tremendous challenge at the elementary school level, where there is no more capacity to add students to fully virtual learning.

What To Expect:

For the past two weeks, we have been working in conjunction with area school districts and the NYSDOH to keep schools open for in-person instruction following the previous Yellow Zone designation. We made a great deal of progress and we're very hopeful that we would be able to meet the 20% testing requirement:

  • We applied for our NYS Limited Service Laboratory (LSL) licensing last week, which is required to order/administer tests.
  • We partnered with Supplemental Health for additional nursing staff to conduct testing
  • Our school nurses began training in administering the tests.
  • We developed detailed testing procedures.

We are continuing to move forward in developing our testing program. We must remember that, if we return to Yellow Zone status, we will need to be prepared to test 20% of students and staff in order to resume in-person instruction.

In the coming days, we will send parents and guardians an electronic consent form so we can determine which students we would be able to test. This would provide us with the data we would need for the 100% requirement for reopening in an Orange Zone, or the 20% requirement for operating in a Yellow Zone. We are awaiting approval of our LSL license and, once that is in place, we will secure the necessary testing supplies. We will also continue to monitor regional positivity data.

Instructional Update:

As we make this transition, it is important to note that students will continue with their current teachers. For all students at all grade levels, whoever your teachers are today will be your teachers on Monday.

Students who have been attending school in-person (Gr. K-1 Group A/B and Gr. K-12 8:1-1, 12:1-1, 12:1-4 and 15-1 special classes) will transition to fully remote learning beginning Monday. They will follow the same schedule they followed earlier in the school year. For all other elementary school students, their schedules will remain unchanged and they will continue with remote learning as they have been.
In secondary schools (Gr. 5-12), teachers and schedules will remain unchanged:
One of the benefits of having begun the year with a fully remote instructional model is that our teachers are more adept at educating students at home. Additionally, our students more adept at learning from home. It is far from ideal and is no substitute for in-person instruction, but our staff already have expertise and training to make the best of these difficult circumstances. We have made incredible strides thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our school staff, families, and students.

Our best way forward as a community is to get our rates down. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, we must all work together as a community to always follow all safety procedures that minimize the spread of COVID-19. We must all do our part.
Thank you for reviewing this information. As always, we remain Ken-Ton Proud, Ken-Ton Strong, and Ken-Ton Moving Forward!

For previous editions of the Ken-Ton Weekly Connection, visit www.ktufsd.org/connection