The Greater Amsterdam 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 our Montgomery County Department of Health and, in the event of a positive case, we will work closely with the health department to provide all necessary information to aid in contact tracing efforts.
We all know that throughout the school year people will get sick, both students and staff. We also know that some COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough, muscle/body aches, sore throat, headaches, etc. mimic the same symptoms as flu and even common colds. We ask that everyone remain calm during this difficult time. Please don’t jump to conclusions or spread misinformation among colleagues, parents or students. You will know there is a positive COVID-19 case in your school community because the district will tell you upon confirmation from health officials. We will not be issuing any COVID-19 notifications until we have received confirmation from a public health department.
Notifying our School Community/Staff of Positive Cases
In the event of a positive case among Greater Amsterdam School District students or staff members, we will issue an email notification to all employees and via mass notification system to all families district-wide. We will also post the information on our website.
Notification of a positive case will indicate the school the individual is connected to. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy laws restrict the district from disclosing or confirming any personally identifiable information and we cannot identify anyone who has tested positive.
The local health department will reach out to all contacts of an individual confirmed to have COVID-19 and advise on the need to quarantine and arrange testing for those exposed.
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 Report Card
As part of its efforts to ensure that New Yorkers have timely information, the New York State DOH has launched an online COVID-19 Report Card that provides information about cases connected to schools and institutes of higher education. Our school district submits information daily to the state for this report card, or “dashboard.” The link is prominently displayed in the yellow Special Alerts bar at the top of the district website www.gasd.org. You can check the dashboard at any time by clicking here and enter Amsterdam under the Public Schools tag.
What you might not know about the dashboard is that GASD is required to report not only confirmed positive COVID cases connected to the school, but also any instance where someone (such as a student or employee) has shown symptoms of the coronavirus for at least 48 hours, but has not been tested or has not received a conclusive alternative diagnosis within that time. In such instances, the district must proceed as if that individual is positive, and report it as a positive case to local and state authorities.
It is also important to note that in addition to school districts, COVID-19 cases are also being reported to the state directly by labs. For this reason, there could be a case reported on the dashboard that either the district is unaware of or has not yet been verified with us by the county Department of Health.
Additionally, labs report cases by student address, which means a case among a student who does not attend a district school (e.g. a home school, private or parochial school student), could appear in the district’s dashboard in a column titled, “Lab Reported Positives based on Residential Address.”
We continue to emphasize that we will notify our district staff and community directly once we receive confirmation from the county health department of a student or staff member diagnosed with COVID-19.
Health & Safety Precautions
We continue to encourage all members of our school community to follow precautions so that we can work to promote health and safety in our community as a whole. This includes:
- Staying home when not feeling well
- Practicing safe social distancing at all times
- Wearing a mask in public, especially when social distancing is not possible
Finally, we wanted to clarify what needs to happen before students and staff can return to school after falling ill or showing COVID-19 symptoms. Also, see the flowchart:
If a student or employee has shown symptoms of the coronavirus, one of the following must take place before that person can return to school:
- The person’s health care provider provides a conclusive diagnosis of something other than COVID-19;
- The person tests negative for COVID-19; or
- The person is released from isolation by the Department of Health
Students and employees may be asked to provide documentation from a health care provider of an alternative diagnosis, or a negative COVID test result. Anyone who is symptomatic for 48 hours and does not receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID test result may be isolated by the Department of Health.
While these protocols may present challenges for some families, please be aware that they are not simply school or district policy: Only the Department of Health has the power to release individuals from isolation, which would then allow them to return to the school.