Updated COVID-19 guidance for returning to school Jan. 18

A young student concentrating on a task in the classroom

The City School District of Albany is planning for all students to return to in-person instruction next Tuesday, although the district will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases to ensure that all buildings have adequate staffing for a full return.

The district initially had considered a phased-in return for students following the current shift to distance learning due to the spike in COVID-19 cases following the holiday break. However, the state’s distribution of more test kits this week, and the Albany County Health Department’s approval last Friday of a five-day quarantine period rather than 10 days, contributed to the district’s plan for all students to return in-person Tuesday.

Any changes to that plan prior to next Tuesday will be building-by-building based on an increased COVID-19 impact on staffing levels. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 cases and staffing levels through the week and weekend, and will communicate with families immediately if plans for Tuesday change for any schools.


Shortened five-day quarantine protocols

The Albany County Health Department has approved the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that the COVID-19 quarantine period can be shortened to five days based on the following guidance:

  • The individual must be asymptomatic, or symptoms must be getting better.
    • Please note that for an individual who has tested positive, a negative test is not required to exit quarantine. A person who has tested positive will continue to test positive for up to 90 days.
  • The individual must wear a well-fitted mask, a surgical mask or a KN-95 mask while inside all district buildings.
  • The individual must eat separately or at least 6 feet apart from others until 10 days after the onset of symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test, or exposure to another person who has tested positive.

You can check out this COVID-19 flowchart for more information about COVID-19 protocols for employees and students. 


COVID-19 test kits for families, employees

In addition to the more than 8,850 COVID-19 test kits the state delivered to the district for students on Dec. 31, the state delivered an additional 4,234 test kits to the district Tuesday. 

Parents and guardians who have not yet picked up a test kit can contact your school to get one. The district also will accept results from an at-home test kit purchased separately. 

Parents and guardians should continue to report any at-home positive results for students to the county health department using this link, and to your school nurse. Email and phone information for our school nurses is available on each school’s web page. 

All district employees will be able to pick up a test kit at their building Thursday and Friday of this week. Employees are asked to test once on the day you pick up your test kit, and again early in the day on Monday. The district also will accept results from an at-home test kit purchased separately. 

All employees also should report any positive at-home cases to the health department in your county of residence, and to Health Services Coordinator Suzanne McCarthy as well as their direct supervisor. 

The district continues to urge vaccinations for everyone age 5 and older who is eligible and able. Please also continue to follow all COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including wearing masks, frequent hand-washing, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and large gatherings. 


Test to stay and reporting requirements

The district will implement a test-to-stay protocol beginning next week for unvaccinated, asymptomatic students and employees who are contacts of positive cases. 

When an unvaccinated, asymptomatic individual is identified as a contact, they will be sent home with a test kit. The individual should test that same day. 

If that test is negative, the individual can return to school.  

If the result is positive, district students and employees living in Albany County must quarantine at home and report the positive result to the county health department (employees living in other counties also must quarantine and report the positive result to your county health department). 

Parents and guardians also should report positive student results to the school nurse; all employees should report positive results to Health Services Coordinator Suzanne McCarthy.

Vaccinated, asymptomatic students and employees who are identified as contacts do not need to quarantine but should monitor for symptoms and wear a well-fitted mask, a surgical mask or a KN-95 mask at school or work.

Regardless of vaccination status, anyone with symptoms should get a COVID-19 test – at-home rapid tests and in-person PCR tests are acceptable. 

If the result is negative, students should inform the school nurse; employees should inform Ms. McCarthy.

If the result is positive, students should begin quarantine, and parents and guardians should report the positive result to the county health department and your school nurse. Employees should also begin quarantine and report the positive result to the health department in your county of residence, and to Ms. McCarthy.