Letter to Families & Staff; 12-03-2021

Dear Families,   

This letter contains important information from our district about: 

  • Diagnostic (Symptomatic) COVID-19 Testing to Begin Next Week

  • Instructions for all COVID-19 Testing through RCS

  • Test Out of Quarantine Option for Students & Staff

  • SchoolTool Parent Portal Web Address Update

  • NYS Vaccination Sites Now Open to 5 to 11 Year Olds

  • District-Wide Parent Conferences, Tuesday, December 7

  • Upcoming Important Dates

  • Who to Contact and When Guide

  • Grade 3 through 8 NYS Testing Scores

  • COVID-19 Protocol Reminders

All the information in this letter, from past letters and more, can be found on our website

Diagnostic (Symptomatic) COVID-19 Testing to Begin Next Week: As we have already shared with our community, students and staff who display COVID-19 related symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, are required to:

  • Isolate (stay out of school) for 10 days or 

  • receive a negative result on a COVID-19 Lab test or 

  • provide an alternative diagnosis from their physician in order to return to school. 

RCS will begin offering free diagnostic testing next week for students and staff who are sent home, or kept at home, due to COVID-19 related symptoms. We will begin offering testing next Wednesday, December 8. One important component of this process is that students and staff that would like to be tested when symptomatic must register here and families must also complete an RCS Student Testing Consent Letter.  Some families may have already completed this Consent Letter and returned it to school in October/November. This is a voluntary registration and your children are not required to be tested at school. Testing at school is just one easy way for symptomatic students and staff to return to school sooner than 10 days. Students/staff that are eligible for this symptomatic testing should contact their school nurse. 

All students and staff can participate in this simple oral swab symptomatic testing, regardless of their vaccination status, and can opt-in or opt-out of testing at any time. The company that makes the test has provided information about the saliva-based test here and a FAQ here. After testing, results will be sent to both families and the school within 24-36 hours. In addition to the results being emailed directly to the family or staff member, any student or staff member who tests positive will be notified through a phone call from the school. Again, in order to participate, families or staff must register through Clarifi Quadrant Testing here

Instructions for registering for COVID-19 testing through RCS: Staff or parents/guardians interested in participating must register on the Quadrant website and create a profile for each individual that will be tested.  This can be done here: https://app.clarifi-covid-19.com/. This must be done in advance of the testing as you will not be able to register at the testing site. Here is a video on how to register online (scroll down to view video). Families must also have a completed RCS Student Testing Consent Letter on file with the school in order to be tested.  Tips for registration and for before testing:

  • Registration requires the participant’s full legal name.

  • For students, please list the employment status in step 5 as unknown. 

  • There is no out-of-pocket cost to participate in the program, regardless of health insurance status.

  • When registering with Quadrant Biosciences, it will ask for insurance, if you do not have insurance you can skip this step. 

  • Albany County Department of Health has confirmed you will not be charged copays or deductibles for this testing.

  • The request for a social security number and driver’s license number can be skipped. 

  • Individuals being tested should NOT eat or drink anything (with the exception of water), including chewing gum, mints or lozenges, tobacco, or smokeless tobacco products, within 30 minutes of their testing time. 

  • Mouthwash and toothpaste should NOT be used within an hour of the testing time.

Test Out of Quarantine Option for Students & Staff: The RCS School District is participating in the “test out of quarantine” program that was recently approved by the Albany County Department of Health. This program will allow students and staff to start testing out of quarantine beginning no earlier than the 6th day after exposure. Anyone is eligible to be tested through a local health provider to satisfy this requirement (no home tests can be accepted at this time) and RCS hopes to begin offering this testing on-site in the near future. 

Here is the process to test out of quarantine:

If a COVID-19 test administered on or after the 6th day of quarantine comes back negative, the student/staff member may return on the 8th day of their quarantine. Rapid antigen tests, nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT), or PCR tests can be used to test out of quarantine, but no at-home tests will be accepted. As per the DOH, the specimen may be collected and tested within 48 hours before the time the quarantine may potentially end (day 6 or 7), but quarantine cannot end earlier than day 7 at 11:59 PM. In other words, students/staff may return on day 8 of quarantine if they have received a negative test that is taken on days 6 or 7. Of course, anyone who is attempting to return early must be asymptomatic. Here is the official New York State Department of Health guidelines. Quarantine can end after day 7, if the test is negative and if no symptoms were reported during daily monitoring while in quarantine. You can find more details about the guidelines, process, and a helpful diagram here. Official results of testing on days 6 or 7 should be shared with the school nurse who will authorize an early return to school from quarantine. Documentary proof of a negative test within these parameters should be submitted to your child’s school nurse via email or hard copy dropped off at the main office.

SchoolTool Parent Portal Web Address Update: Last week, we sent a notice to all RCS families informing them that the link to the Parent Portal had been updated. We ask that families update their web browser shortcuts and their SchoolTool cell phone application to reflect this web address change. If you access the Parent Portal from the old link online, you will be immediately redirected to the new link. The new web address is: https://schooltool3.neric.org/SchoolTool_RAVE/

NYS Vaccination Sites Now Open to 5 to 11 Year Olds: Recently, Governor Hochul announced 10 mass New York State vaccination sites that are now open for 5 - 11 year olds, some have booster shots available as well. You can make an appointment here. She is also encouraging parents and guardians to visit the State's new website, ny.gov/VaxForKids, for information, frequently asked questions, and new resources about the COVID-19 vaccine for children. 

District-Wide Parent Conference Day, Tuesday, December 7: This coming Tuesday, December 7, will be a staff-only day for Parent Conference for all students Pre-k through grade 12. No students will be in attendance. Information surrounding the conference day will come from your student’s school if it has not already. 

Upcoming Important Dates

  • Tuesday, December 7: Parent Conferences PK - grade 12, staff only, no students in attendance.

  • December 17: End of the second quarter five-week interim period (MS/HS).

  • December 24 - December 31: Holiday Recess - No School.

  • Monday, January 3: Classes resume for all students. 

  • Monday, January 17: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - No School. 

Who to Contact and When Guide: This year we launched a Who to Contact and When Guide for RCS families, located in the school calendar and on our website. This document was created to help ensure that questions and concerns from our community are addressed in the most efficient and effective manner possible. It outlines who you should contact first for information in a particular area, as well as the next step if your concern is not addressed. Staff contact information can be found on the second page. 

Grade 3 through 8 NYS Testing Scores: Families with students in grades 3 through 8 will be receiving a copy of their student's New York State test scores with their report cards. These test scores are from the 2020-2021 school year. If you have any questions regarding your student's score, please reach out to your student's teacher(s)

COVID-19 Protocol Reminders:  You can find the most up-to-date COVID-19 protocols for RCS on our website here, including information about student work when in quarantine. We created the COVID-19 Illness, Isolation, and Quarantine Guidance Charts to help families understand this guidance. Please remember that if a student or staff member is sick, they should not come to school/work that day. You can access the NYS Department of Health guide to exposure and contact tracing here

We hope you and your families had a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving recess. If you have any questions about anything covered in the letter, please reach out to your student’s building for clarification. Thank you and have a great weekend,

Brian Bailey, Ed.D. 

Superintendent of Schools