BALLSTON SPA — The Ballston Spa Central School District held a Board of Education meeting on Jan. 19 to discuss recent changes to the district’s COVID-19 Reopening Plan.
First on the agenda was recognition for Launching Pad Productions, Ballston Spa Middle School’s Drama Club. They will be holding in-person performances for The SpongeBob Musical Feb. 10-13. A small group of students presented to the Board of Education how they are excited to perform for an in-person audience again, and that Launching Pad has helped them learn public speaking skills, social skills, responsibility, and more. Tickets will be $5 for students and senior citizens and $10 for adults.
Later in the meeting, it was mentioned that midterm week is the week of Jan. 24 – Jan. 28, as the NYS Regents Exams have been cancelled; Students and faculty will finish this semester and move directly into the next.
With Winter Break in February, there is only one BSCSD BOE Meeting next month to be held on Wednesday, Feb. 9.
Reopening Plan Updates
Superintendent Ken Slentz presented recent changes to the district’s Reopening Plan regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Slentz recently spent time with other administrators from the 31 school districts in the WSWHE BOCES and the 24 school districts in the Capital Region BOCES to work on a common understanding of the frequently changing guidelines from the CDC and NYSDOH.
Slentz presented the 9th iteration to the district’s Reopening Plan. The summary of changes to the plan since Nov. 21 is as follows:
• Quarantining times have been reduced by the CDC from 10 days to 5 days.
• The universal masking requirement ordered by NYSDOH will remain in place until Feb. 1, 2022.
• Symptomatic students may use OTC tests to return to school (two tests administered 36 hours apart with a signed parent attestation).
• The CDC has approved booster shots for students ages 12-17 years old.
• NYS will no longer require contact tracing, but Saratoga County and the Ballston Spa Central School District are taking a modified approach to this in specific high-risk instances, including but not limited to, special education classes, middle school and high school lunch periods, athletic teams, and classroom outbreaks.
• Test-To-Stay is an option for unvaccinated, asymptomatic students identified in the limited contract tracing described above.
• COVID screening test are now available to parents. The district has approximately 6,000 tests on hand, and each school building has a process for parents to request those tests.
• Staffing shortages continue to be a problem for Bus Drivers, Teaching Assistants, and Teacher Aides. Slentz extended a thank you to parents and caregivers for being flexible and arranging transportation for their students; attendance percentages have been high despite these shortages.
• Cases increased dramatically in late December and are beginning to decrease throughout districts in the region. Two weeks prior to the BOE meeting there were 50-60 cases in the district, the week prior there were 34 cases, and the week of the meeting there were 24 cases.
Current vaccination status for completed vaccine series as of Jan. 19 is 88% for BSCSD faculty and staff, 63% for BSCSD students ages 12+, and 32% for BSCSD students ages 5-11. Vaccination status for the Ballston Spa Zip Code is 78.8%.
Some of the next steps for the BSCSD are to reevaluate with every new guidance released from the CDC and NYSDOH. The district is already anticipating this to happen after the Governor’s reevaluation coming up on Feb. 1.
They will also continue to monitor winter sports; currently, there are no restrictions in place for spectator attendance. There are also no restrictions for other in-person events, but with the upcoming February play season and March concert season, the district will be awaiting guidance on that.
There have been no requests since before holiday break for a district-wide vaccine clinic.
All BSCSD COVID-19 resources, references, and links can be found on the district’s Health Service webpage. Visit bscsd.org, Department’s tab, Health Services to find this information.