Dear St. Mark Families:
On Saturday evening we received updated information from New York State regarding requirements for schools that are located in the designated “yellow zone” according to the New York State Cluster Action Initiative. The new requirements state that ALL schools must test 20% of their students and staff by the end of this week. Per their guidelines, “If the results of the testing reveal that the positivity rate among the 20% of those tested is lower than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, testing at that school will no longer be required to continue. A positivity rate in a school that is lower than in the yellow zone is a sufficient demonstration that in-person instruction is not a significant driver of local viral spread.” If the testing rate among school members is higher than the yellow zone’s positivity rate, then testing of school members must continue on a bi-weekly basis.
Our school does not have tests available, nor is it able to provide on site testing to students or staff. We have been in contact with the company that provides our school nurses, but they are unable to acquire or provide test kits at this time. Even if on-site testing becomes available in the near future, it would result in a significant cost to the school which we are unsure we could absorb. This is due to the budgetary constraints resulting from to the Diocese’s total cessation of funding, our CARES Act allotment having been cut in half, the added costs of the PPE and safety equipment purchased to support in person instruction, and a reduction in tuition payments due to a slight dip in enrollment.
The only way St. Mark School, along with many other schools in the yellow zone, can achieve the 20% testing requirement is if families volunteer to get their children tested at available sites throughout Western New York. The COVID testing sites include: pediatricians, primary care providers, Well Now, Urgent Care, CVS, Walgreens, other drugstores and free testing sites provided by local and state departments of health.
The failure of our school to achieve a 20% testing rate within the week could result in sanctions from NYS that could end in person instruction and result in remote learning for all students.
Fortunately, the results of our COVID-19 Testing Survey emailed to all families on November 10 indicated that nearly 75% of our parents would be willing to have their children COVID tested. It is required that we have 80 students and staff tested for COVID-19 this week. Therefore, we have attached a volunteer sign up form for parents to indicate that they are willing to get their children tested off site. The information in this form will be held in strict confidentiality, however we will need to know the parents’ names, the names of students to be tested and the possible site of testing. Parents who volunteer must then provide proof of testing and the testing results. This information can be provided via email to our school nurse at TMartin@saintmarkschool.com or send in a paper copy.
If your child has been COVID tested since November 9, please email Nurse Tracy to inform her of such, along with sending the test results. That information will assist in achieving the 20% testing mandate.
*Should Governor Cuomo or local officials change the designation to orange or red, the testing mandate outlined in this letter may be void because all schools within the orange or red zone, including St. Mark School, could be required to transition to remote learning.
We know these mandates are a strain on schools and families. We appreciate your cooperation as we strive to maintain a level of in-person instruction for our students.
Should you choose to volunteer to get your child(ren) COVID tested:
- Complete the St. Mark COVID Testing Volunteer Form
- Take your child(ren) to be tested
- Obtain proof of testing and send to Nurse Tracy
- Obtain the test results and send to Nurse Tracy
R. Clemens & H. McCarthy