Superintendent update – October 9

on October 9, 2020



Dear M-W families,

Good afternoon. I am writing to provide updates regarding important happenings in the school district this week. Please take a few minutes to read this message in its entirety as I have received several questions from our families and I am doing my best to share information as it becomes available. 

North Main Elementary

As you may be aware, the school district received notification from Governor Cuomo’s office late Wednesday afternoon that North Main Elementary School has been placed in a “yellow/precautionary zone” due to its close proximity to a confirmed COVID-19 cluster in Monroe. 

Schools within the “yellow zone,” according to the Governor’s new COVID-19 cluster initiative, will be required to meet testing requirements set by the Orange County Department of Health. I have been in contact with the Governor’s office and Dr. Irina Gelman, Commissioner of Health for Orange County. The school district has been instructed to take no immediate action and to continue to follow the district’s reopening plan until we receive specific protocols, plans or procedures for testing implementation.

Please note that we have not agreed to testing. The district will consider various alternatives, including closure of the school building for a two-week period. No decision will be made until detailed guidance is received from the state and local health departments. For now, North Main Elementary remains open while we await further direction. The district will provide updates as more information becomes available.  

School/Classroom Closures – Decision Process

Pine Tree Elementary operated on a fully remote model this week due to one positive COVID case and one presumed case. I think it is important to clarify how district leadership makes decisions related to such closures.

  • The decision to close a building, classroom, or wing of a school building is dependent upon several conditions and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Once a positive case is confirmed, contact tracing is initiated. If it is determined that the individual has traveled to several locations throughout the building or has been in contact with multiple people, the school district confers with the Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH). Together, we decide the course of action. In the case of Pine Tree, for example, it was determined that school closure for the extended period was the most prudent action.
  • All individuals who had close contact with the positive case are contacted. 
  • The school district is required to report all positive cases (student or employee) to the OCDOH. In some cases, students or staff members have never entered a district building (e.g., they are teaching or learning exclusively from home). In these situations, a positive case would not warrant action from the district other than submission of a report to OCDOH.

Informing District Families

According to Orange County regulations, the school district must first receive official confirmation of a positive case from the OCDOH before we inform our families. This verification process may take a while, but we will share information as soon as possible. 

We are very fortunate that Dr. Lisa Sassi, district health coordinator, is a member of the M-W medical team. Dr. Sassi and her staff are working very hard to help ensure a safe and healthy experience for all members of the school community, including diligent follow up on reported cases. 

Credible Sources of Information

As we continue to deal with the ongoing effects of this pandemic both on a global and local level, it is important for us to rely upon credible sources of information, especially when it comes to the sharing and interpretation of data. 

The New York State COVID Report Card is based on information supplied by laboratories and school districts. It is important to note that “Lab Reported COVID Data” reflects the number of COVID-19 tests and test results for students residing in the school district’s geographic region. Individuals may attend a private or charter school in a neighboring district, which would account for the difference between the school reported cases and the lab reported cases. Please remember that all information is vetted through the OCDOH. 

Thank you for doing your part to keep us all safe. Enjoy the extended weekend.

Warm regards,

Elsie Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools

Updated Information – October 9 @ 4:00 p.m.

The school district received confirmation this afternoon from the Orange County Department of Health of seven positive COVID-19 cases in the following schools: Monroe-Woodbury High School, Monroe-Woodbury Middle School, Pine Tree Elementary (2 cases), North Main Elementary (2 cases) and Smith Clove Elementary. 

None of these individuals have been in the school buildings during their infectious period. As per Orange County Department of Health protocols, no action is required by the district at this time.

All M-W school buildings remain open for instruction.