The Highland Falls-Fort Montgomery Central School District is committed to making the soundest decisions regarding our reopening, and we strongly believe in making those decisions based on science. Our approach is comprehensive in nature and it is informed by what we see happening internationally as well as by national and state guidance, and local decisions.
HFFMCSD strives to return students to our physical schools in a safe and responsible manner. This website is designed to inform parents, faculty and staff of the plans related to the use of our physical school campuses.
COVID-19 Testing Information
In response to increases in positive COVID-19 test results in various areas, Governor Cuomo implemented the Cluster Action Initiative. Specifically, based on the percent of COVID-19 cases or test results in a given area, there could be designations of Yellow, Orange or Red Zones. If a school or school district is located in one of these zones, there are several protocols that would need to be implemented to allow for in-person instruction to continue. Most noteworthy is the COVID-19 testing that must take place to continue in-person instruction. In Yellow and Orange Zones, 20% of the students, faculty and staff must be tested during the two weeks and month (respectively) following the designation. Red Zones are required to test 30% of the students, faculty and staff over a thirty-day period.
The Village of Highland Falls is currently in a Yellow Zone.
Based on the central tenet that the optimal place for learning is in the classroom and the safety protocols in our schools including physical distancing, masks, hygiene, and thorough disinfecting procedures, every effort will be made to return to and continue the hybrid model regardless of a designation. For this to be an option, we have developed a plan for testing procedures that will allow for full compliance and the continued safety of our students, faculty, and staff. The District has reached out to and will be partnering with Horizon Family Medical Group in the development of this plan.
We will be hosting a Town Hall event on January 12, 2021 at 6:00 pm to provide information about our testing program and to address questions. Please feel free to send questions to our dedicated email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, please take an opportunity to review our COVID-19 resources on our website at https://www.hffmcsd.org/Page/7056
Overview of the Testing Plan (If designated as a Yellow, Orange or Red Zone) :
- The designation will be communicated to all parents, guardians, students, faculty and staff.
- Parents/guardians will be asked to complete a Google Form consenting to the testing of their child(ren).
- No student will be tested without a consent form and direct communication with the parents/guardians.
- If the number of Testing Consent Forms returned exceeds the number needed for the zone designation (20% for Yellow and Orange; 30% for Red), the school (or District) may be able to remain open for hybrid instruction.
If we do not receive enough consent forms, schools will need to pivot to fully remote instruction.
- Horizon Family Medical Group personnel will conduct all on-site testing.
- During the week following a designation announcement:
- At the beginning of the school day, students selected for testing will be directed to a gathering area where they will be seated allowing for enhanced social distancing.
- Students will be escorted to the mobile testing van and will have the test administered by Horizon personnel. Our school nurses will physically be present to support our children during the process.
- Students will be escorted back to their seat in the gathering area while the result of their test is determined. Please be advised that this is a rapid test, which takes approximately fifteen minutes.
- If a student tests negative for COVID-19, he or she will be sent to their class and their instructional day will resume.
- If a student tests positive for COVID-19, the student will be escorted to the isolation room. Their parent or guardian will be contacted by the school nurse, and the child will need to be picked up. In addition, any siblings in any school building will need to be picked up, as well, as he or she would be a close contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.
- It is extremely important that families be available to pick up their child immediately if they test positive.
- All families will be informed of the results of the testing by Horizon.
- Testing of students will be scheduled so as to ensure that the required percentage of students and staff are tested bi-weekly in order to meet the requirements.
- Families will be notified of their child(ren)s identification as someone who will be tested at least two days prior to the date of testing.
- On the day of testing,
THE HIGHLAND FALLS INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL IS LOCATED IN AN AREA THAT HAS BEEN DESIGNATED AS A YELLOW ZONE.
- We are still planning on a return to our hybrid instructional model on January 19th.
- We will tentatively begin surveillance testing of students, faculty and staff at the HFIS on January 21st.
- IF WE DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT CONSENT TO TEST STUDENTS, THE SCHOOL WILL BE REQUIRED BY NEW YORK STATE TO RETURN TO VIRTUAL ONLY INSTRUCTION.
- We tentatively plan to test at the Highland Falls Intermediate School as per the following schedule.
- January 21st - 10 percent of Gold Cohort Students and 10 percent of Faculty and Staff
- January 25th - 10 percent of Maroon Cohort Students and 10 percent of Faculty and Staff
In the event that the positivity rate from the surveillance testing is lower than the positivity rate in the Yellow Zone based upon the seven-day rolling period average, then testing may be discontinued. If, however, the positivity rate in HFIS exceeds the seven-day rolling average positivity rate in the Yellow Zone, then it is anticipated that testing would then continue as follows:
- February 4th - 10 percent of the Gold Cohort Students and 10 percent of Faculty and Staff
- February 8th - 10 percent of the Maroon Cohort Students and 10 percent of Faculty and Staff
As James I. O’Neill High School and the Fort Montgomery Elementary School are physically located in areas that are not designated Yellow, Orange, or Red, our plans for those schools are proactive. We will only conduct surveillance testing for those schools if they are identified as located in Yellow, Orange, or Red Zones.
If you wish to consent to COVID-19 surveillance testing for your child(ren), please click on the link below:
In addition, the Horizon Family Medical Group is in the process of creating a portal where families can register. If your child is selected, you will receive an email with the link to the portal where you can register your child. In the event that the portal is not ready, parents must complete the following forms:
1. Does this mean that there will definitely be in-person instruction or hybrid learning if the HFFMCSD is designated as an Orange Zone?
No. This plan allows us to have that option. The health and safety of our learning community is the highest priority. If we can safely open our school buildings, this gives us that opportunity.
2. What happens if we do not offer the testing in our school district?
Our students will need to pivot to all remote learning until the school(s) with a zone designation no longer has a designation of Yellow, Orange, or Red.
3. Is the District in a designated Zone? Are we Yellow, Orange, or Red?
Yes and No. The Highland Falls Intermediate School, which is located in the Village of Highland Falls, is currently located in a Yellow Zone. We must test at the HFIS in order to remain open. The other schools are not located in a designated zone. We have established plans for each of the schools in order to be proactive.
4. What form of test will be used?
In partnership with the New York State Department of Health and Horizon Family Medical Group, we have ordered COVID-19 Antigen Tests. These tests are commonly referred to as “Rapid Tests."
5. Is this the test where the swab is sent high in the nasal cavity?
No. The swab will be around the inside of the nostrils. This will be a simple, quick, and painless testing procedure.
6. Will the tests be conducted by school personnel?
No. That is the partnership with Horizon Family Medical Group. Trained Personnel from Horizon Family Medical Group will conduct the tests. These are the same individuals who perform the tests at the practices. Our dedicated school nurses will be there to support our children through the process and will also be able to answer any questions that families may have.
7. Will you offer tests to parents and guardians?
Community-based testing occurs at the various locations around the county. The tests referenced in this plan are to achieve the 20-30% of students, faculty, and staff that would be required to remain in the hybrid model.
8. What happens if we do not have 20-30% of students who are willing to consent to testing?
As per State requirements, if we are required to test and we do not get sufficient families to consent, the District would need to shift to fully remote instruction.
9. My child is in first grade. Should I consent for my child?
That is a decision that is best left to the parent/guardian. One might consider the age and how your child might react to the testing process. While it is quick and painless, every student/individual is different and we do not want to add stress to our students. Families know their children best.
10. Will the parents receive the results of the test?
Yes. The lab will report the results to the parents/guardians, as well as to school officials.
11. If I sign the consent form, how many times will my child be tested?
A maximum of one time per month.
12. How will I know when my child is scheduled to be tested?
Parents/guardians will be informed before testing is to take place. No student will be tested without a completed Consent Form and advanced parent/guardian contact.
13. If I decide to consent to the testing, what steps should I take?
Complete the HFFMCSD Consent Form. In addition, the Horizon Family Medical Group is in the process of creating a portal where families can register. If your child is selected, you will receive an email with the link to the portal where you can register your child. In the event that the portal is not ready, parents must complete the following forms: the Horizon Family Medical Group Registration Form, the Mandatory COVID-19 Inquiry (Pursuant NYS E.O. 202.61), and Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information (HIPAA Release). Return the forms to your child’s Main Office as soon as possible. The HIPAA Release allows Horizon Family Medical to share the test results with the District. Without these forms, testing cannot be conducted.