COVID-19/School Updates – 2020-21

bulldog with letters BKWGovernor Cuomo, the State Education Department, and Department of Health released school reopening guidelines on July 13, 2020, and required school districts to submit a reopening plan to the New York State Education Department by July 31. The BKW School Reopening Task Force completed the reopening plan and submitted it to the state ahead of schedule. A link to that plan is below:

PLEASE NOTE: This is an extremely fluid process, and the reopening plan will be updated as new guidance and regulations are released.  COVID-19-related updates are posted below, and additional resources are posted in the right-hand column of this webpage.

Dec. 2, 2020: COVID-19 notification

Dear BKW parent/guardian and staff,

The administration has been notified that a BKW district employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The person last worked in the district on Nov. 24, 2020. We are currently working closely with the Albany County Department of Health to identify this individual’s contacts within the district.

The Albany County Department of Health will reach out to all contacts and advise them on the need to quarantine and to arrange testing of those exposed. Additionally, if you are not contacted by the Albany County Department of Health but would like to be tested, please talk with your healthcare provider or the Department of Health to make arrangements.

Please note that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy laws restrict us from disclosing or confirming any personally identifiable information. We cannot identify anyone who has tested positive.

We know it is important to keep you informed during these uncertain times while also respecting the federal and state laws that prohibit the release of confidential medical information.

Any students or staff members who have been in close contact with this individual will be directly contacted by the Department of Health to discuss how long they should self-quarantine and other health-related instructions.
Any student who has been directed by the county health department to self-quarantine will temporarily switch to online learning until the quarantine has ended and it is safe to return to campus for in-person instruction.

We continue to work closely with county health officials and follow their guidance on how to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.

Sincerely,
Timothy Mundell, Ed. D
Superintendent of Schools

Dec. 1, 2020: COVID-19 notification

Dear BKW parent/guardian and staff,

The district has been notified that a member of the BKW Secondary School community has tested positive for COVID-19. The person was last in school on Nov. 24, 2020. Although this is a “self-reported” case and we are awaiting full verification from the Albany County Health Department we believe it is important out of an abundance of caution to make our community aware of the situation.

We are currently working closely with the Albany County Department of Health to identify this individual’s contacts at the school. The Albany County Department of Health will reach out to all contacts and advise them on the need to quarantine and to arrange testing of those exposed. Additionally, if you are not contacted by the Albany County Department of Health but would like to be tested, please talk with your healthcare provider or the Department of Health to make arrangements.

Please note that The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy laws restrict us from disclosing or confirming any personally identifiable information. We cannot identify anyone who has tested positive.

This message is not meant to alarm you. We know it is important to keep you informed during these uncertain times while also respecting the federal and state laws that prohibit the release of confidential medical information.

Any students or staff members who have been in close contact with this individual will be directly contacted by the Department of Health to discuss how long they should self-quarantine and other health-related instructions.

Students who have been directed by the county health department to self-quarantine will temporarily switch to online learning until their quarantine has ended and they are cleared to return to campus for in-person instruction.

At this time, our school remains open for in-person instruction. We continue to work closely with county health officials and follow their guidance on how to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment. Please contact the principal directly if you would like more information about our health and safety procedures.

Sincerely,

Timothy Mundell, Ed. D
Superintendent of Schools

Nov. 18, 2020: Symptomatic persons must have negative PCR lab test to return to school or work, per County DOH

At the Albany County Executive Press Conference on Monday, Nov. 16, County Health Commissioner Dr. Elizabeth Whalen announced a change in protocols for testing of symptomatic individuals. Going forward, in order to return to school, or work, symptomatic individuals must have a negative PCR test. A negative antigen “rapid test” will no longer be acceptable to return. Read full message

Nov. 16, 2020: Message from the Superintendent about COVID case

Dear BKW students, families and staff,
The district learned on Sunday, Nov. 15 that a member of the BKW school community has tested positive for COVID-19. The infected person, however, was a Remote Only Learning student and never reported to school in-person, thus never came in contact with other students or staff on school grounds. Read full message

Oct. 13, 2020: Message from the superintendent about COVID-19 positive case reporting

Dear BKW Community,
The Berne-Knox-Westerlo Central School District is committed to as much transparency and information sharing as possible with regard to COVID-19 in our school community. We are in regular contact with the Albany County Department of Health and, in the event of a positive case, will work closely with them to provide all necessary information to aid in contact tracing efforts. Read full message

Sept. 22, 2020: Message from the superintendent

Dear BKW Community,
Congratulations! We have opened school and managed to find our way with new schedules and digital platforms, and our students have gotten to where they need to be while settling into the new school year. More than 40% of our students are working with some sort of remote platform as part of their learning. It took patience and flexibility for students, parents, and staff to become familiar with the day-to-day applications, while also managing many new health protocols and the typical new school year excitement. I would say, all BKW stakeholders have done a bang-up job! Kudos to all. Read full message

Sept. 20, 2020: Albany County Department of Health COVID-19 guidance for K-12

Sept. 17, 2020:  Fall sports opportunities

BKW/WAC announce fall sports opportunities for students – Update: Swimming now in spring

Sept. 10, 2020: NYSPHSAA: Football, volleyball, cheer seasons postponed til spring

The Western Athletic Conference has decided to move forward with the low risk sports of cross country, golf and tennis at the varsity level for the fall season. The moderate risk sport of soccer will be moved to the Fall Sports Season II, which will begin in March and run through April. The Fall Sport Season II also includes high risk sports such as football, cheerleading and volleyball. MORE INFORMATION

Sept. 9, 2020: Meal pick up for remote learners

Breakfast and lunch will be available for remote learners. Meal pick-up will be available every Wednesday between 2-4 p.m. at BKW secondary school. Families will receive 5 days of breakfast and lunch meals. Please contact the food service director if you are interested in receiving meals. Where to Pick-Up: Enter the school through the main entrance. Drive straight back towards the secondary building. Drive to the left, you will see a garage door to the right, stop here. Please ring the bell at the door. Staff will assist you and bring out your meals.

Sept. 3, 2020: Superintendent’s school reopening message

Dear BKW community,
Six months ago we were focused on the coming spring and all the school activities that go with the last quarter of the school year. In what seemed to be an instant, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus turned the world upside down. In the interest of public health and safety, the Governor ordered schools closed, beginning March 18, and over the following weeks, a society went into lockdown to stop the spread of the virus. Early on, we acknowledged, “we are in this together.” Today, as a result of our collective community sacrifices, support, and hard work, the BKW school community is ready to welcome our students, faculty and staff back to work preparing students for their future. Read full message

Aug. 25, 2020: Cuomo announces all fall sports teams will be able to practice Sept. 21 and ‘low risk’ sports can play

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Aug. 24 that state athletic teams will be able to begin practicing on Sept. 21 and that some will be allowed to play games soon after. Cuomo said at his press briefing that “low-risk” sports that BKW offers including soccer, cross country, swimming and golf would be allowed to begin fall activities later next month and then compete locally. Competition would follow a required number of preseason practices for all but golf, which does not mandate them. More information

Aug. 7, 2020: Gov. Cuomo gives green light to reopening schools in the fall

Today, Gov. Cuomo announced that New York state schools will be able to reopening to students in September as long as COVID-19 infection numbers stay low. The governor previously said schools can only open in regions that are in phase four and have a coronavirus infection rate of 5% or less on a rolling 14-day average. Every district currently meets that threshold, according to Cuomo.

Aug. 6, 2020: Watch Aug. 4 & 5 BKW recorded virtual reopening school forums anytime on Facebook

BKW parents and guardians also participated in early August in two virtual forums on reopening schools in the fall. Both forums were recorded and may be watched at any time through the links below:

    July 31, 2020: Remote learning requests due Aug. 14

    While school districts have been instructed to prioritize efforts to return all students to in-person instruction, the district is also planning for remote/distance learning as well as a for a hybrid model that combines in-person instruction and remote learning. Parents will always have the choice to remain in the remote learning model, but need to notify the district of this choice. BKW will accept requests from parents who desire to have their children in a remote learning environment. A written request for remote learning should be submitted to the Superintendent of Schools, or to the principal of the child’s building by August 14.

    July 28, 2020: Reopening Plan posted ahead of deadline

    July 17, 2020: Start of fall sports delayed

    NYSPHSAA (the New York State Public High School Athletic Association) has announced that the start date for Fall sports has been pushed back to September 21st and the Fall Regional and State Championships have been cancelled due to COVID 19 pandemic.

    July 24, 2020: Reopening survey now closed

    Dear BKW parents and families,
    For the past eight weeks, the school district’s reopening task force has been meeting regularly for the purpose of considering needs, strategies, and plans for a safe and healthy return to school in September for students, staff, and any community members who must interact with our schools. This week, the NYS Department of Health and the NYS Education Department issued very detailed guidance for districts to follow as each develops its own plan for reopening. I have attached the link to the SED guidance here for your review: NYS Education Department Guidance on School Reopening.

    At the end of May, we surveyed parents for feedback on the remote learning experience taking place from March to June. The data was helpful as we processed many return plans and guidance documents. READ ENTIRE MESSAGE

    July 8, 2020: Cuomo sets July 31 deadline to submit school reopening plans, state decision on reopening coming early August

    Governor Andrew Cuomo, at his press briefing today, gave an official timeline for districts to submit school reopening plans and said he will make a decision by early August on whether or not to reopen schools statewide in September. Cuomo said the state will release finalized reopening guidance for school districts on July 13. School districts will then submit their safety plans for reopening by July 31.  READ MORE

    July 2, 2020: Message from the superintendent

    Dear BKW families and community,
    I hope you are all safe and healthy. It has been a whirlwind the past three months. It is important to pause and express our appreciation to all our students, families, community members, and staff for having the grit and focus to make the shift to remote learning, despite digital challenges, and complete the school year with credible success. This was a heavy lift, with many problems to solve, but with patience and thought we found solutions to serve needs as they arose. I am grateful to be able to serve and support our students and community. Read full message