Monday Message, 11/30 - Important Updates for Our Community

Dear SGS Families, 

We hope that you had a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. We appreciate your support and patience as we work together as a school community to return to five days a week in-person learning. We have two main goals which drive our reopening planning process:

1. Safety and health of our St. Greg’s school community which includes students and staff.
2. Consistent and effective instructional program for students in PK-8.

Many different criteria set forth by the state need to be met in order for us to accomplish these two main goals. Testing is our top priority to be able to return to in person learning as well as our commitment to providing a seamless transition to distance learning which our wonderful staff, students and parents have been able to accomplish last week.

Remote Learning:

As of today, November 30th, remote learning will continue for the week. We anticipate a return to in-person learning on Monday, December 7th, if our testing kits arrive this week. The return to in-person learning will need to be extended if testing kits do not arrive from the NYS Department of Health, therefore we ask that you please plan accordingly. We will need at least 2 days to complete testing for the entire staff and student population. As soon as we have confirmation of the arrival of our tests we will schedule our testing dates.

Testing Update:

As of today, we are required to receive a negative COVID test from all staff and students who enter campus to return to in person learning. Today the Governor announced some modifications to the testing requirement for schools and we hope to have more information soon. 

In order to meet the current mandate we have explored several testing options. Some of the options were to have everyone get the tested on their own, to partner with a pharmacy, or become a LSL lab and test on site. We chose option 3 as it best met the specific needs of our school community as one of the largest Catholic PK-8 schools in WNY. Our decision with this testing model was based on these factors:  

1. Size of population to be tested within a 7 day period- we have over 450 people to be tested.

2. Availability of non-invasive testing. Some off site testing sites are not currently testing children.
3. Cost- Independent testing can cost between $65.00-$125.00 per test. 

4. Management of results and reporting requirements. We will need to process all negative tests and report these results to the State everyday.

In our research, there are limited appointments available for testing at a wide variety of testing locations across WNY. Many of these sites are not rapid tests, are invasive and the results take an additional 5-7 days to receive results.  

Governor Cuomo Releases Guidelines on Testing Protocol for Schools to Reopen in Red or Orange Micro-Cluster Zones

Testing Plan and looking ahead:

1. Once testing kits have arrived, two dates for testing on-site at St. Gregory the Great campus will be scheduled and sent via email. Parents and staff will sign up using a sign up genius form.
2. SGS will use the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card screening tool, which will involve inserting a small swab, similar to a Q-Tip, into the front of the nose. While reliable as a screening tool, these tests do not deliver 100% accurate results, and students who test positive will require follow-up testing using a more accurate instrument.You will be notified within 10 minutes if your child tests positive for COVID-19. Students who are positive for COVID-19 must follow all Erie County Department of Health criteria to return to school and will not be permitted to return to in-person learning. 

3. Based on the results of our testing it will be determined if we meet the criteria to reopen in person based on the mandates from NYS.

4. To begin the process of preparing for on-site testing, please complete the consent form. We will need for you to complete one per child.  

Family Led Distance Learning, Plan A:

Family led distance learning will be offered to any family that does not wish to test to return or may not be comfortable sending their child to school while in an orange or red zone. If you plan to not return to in-person learning and your family would like more information on distance learning, please contact Mrs. Diina Sciortino

We will continue to focus on hope, positivity, and reality during this challenging time. Your families will continue to be in our prayers. Thank you for your continued support and partnership as we work together to bring our students back to school while remaining safe and healthy.

God Bless, 

The SGS Leadership Team 

Mrs. Gajewski, Mrs. Sciortino, Mr. Luckett, and Mrs. McIntyre