Superintendent's Message

November 24, 2020

Dear Parents & Guardians,

This correspondence is to update you on the status of our schools and COVID-19. I want to thank you and all our families for your cooperation and diligence in observing safety and health protocols as we continue to protect ourselves and our families from Coronavirus.

Recently we have seen COVID-19 infection rates increase in Suffolk County and throughout the State. Over the past week, the rates were at 3.5% for Suffolk County. Fortunately, Mattituck-Cutchogue School District has seen only seven student cases since school started and zero staff member cases. The Governor and Suffolk County Health Commissioner, Dr. Pigott, have pointed out that the spread of COVID-19 is a community-based problem and that spread is not happening in schools. This is true in all cases related to Mattituck.

COVID-19 NY Travel AdvisorySuffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) has asked that school officials promote restricting holiday gatherings to household family members. Those who travel should observe New York State travel guidelines. The link for the NYS Travel Advisory guidelines is here.

Students who travel will not be able to return to school until the completion of a 14 day quarantine, or completion of the newer protocol (outlined on this link) that requires two negative tests. Please note that one of those tests must be administered in the restricted state." These restrictions are in place to keep our families and schools safe from community spread. They are also in place to keep our students learning in school.

With that said, we understand community spread has implications for our school community. The Governor has been providing guidance to school districts regarding the “Micro-Cluster Initiative” or regions with higher levels of community spread noted as Yellow, Orange or Red zones. With those designations, certain testing requirements exist to continue in-person instruction.

The basis of the testing requirements for students include the following:

  • Yellow Zone – Each school must test 20% of in-person students and staff over the two-week period immediately following the announcement of a yellow zone designation. If the results of testing reveal that the positivity rate among the 20% is lower than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, testing at that school will no longer be required. If the results reveal that the positivity rate among in-person students and staff is higher than the zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, the school must continue testing 20% of its in-person population on a bi-weekly basis.

  • Orange & Red Zones – Schools are closed for in-person instruction, but can reopen if 100% of all staff and students agree to be tested prior to the reopening of school. For the following weeks, or until the Governor determines an area is no longer a “hot spot”, 25% of all staff and students must agree to participate in weekly random testing.

In preparation for potential testing that may be required, I would like to determine potential participation and gauge what percentage of random testing would be attainable. Random testing may look like the following:

The testing site would be on school grounds. A school nurse, local doctor, local nurse, police officer, fireman or EMT could administer the rapid test (Rapid Antigen Test Nasal Swab). The Nasal Swab test is free to schools. See example of a video from a NYS school who began their testing already.

In closing, it is important to recognize that the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS) has reported that they have investigated over 900 positive COVID-19 cases associated with over 300 schools and that the data reveals that the efforts all schools have made to reduce the risk of spread within our schools, is in fact working.

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District is proud of our staff and students for adhering to the protocols within our schools, so that we have been able to keep our numbers below regional average. If we need to test our students, we are in the process of preparing for this event. Hampton Bays School District has already piloted the testing program and were very successful in testing within the school district last Thursday and Friday. Fortunately, they had less than five students test positive after testing 20% of their population. This testing experience has allowed them to stay open and has instilled confidence in their community.

Take the COVID testing surveyI ask that you respond to the Mattituck-Cutchogue survey so that I can gauge how many students can be voluntarily tested. Should we need to test in the future, a Parental Consent form would be required and more communication would of course be communicated.

It is important for all of us to observe social distancing protocols, wear masks, wash hands frequently, and follow county and state guidelines on group gatherings and travel restriction.

Let’s continue to stay positive, but test negative!

Warm regards,

Jill M. Gierasch
Superintendent of Schools