Letter: Quarantine decisions are not made by the school district

Dear members of the B-P community,

We’re more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and I know we’re all tired of it — tired of wearing masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer. And we’re really tired of quarantines.

I want to be very clear: Broadalbin-Perth is not in charge of saying who has to quarantine. Those decisions don’t come from me, or from our head nurse Lori Nellis, or from Michele Kelley, who sends out contact tracing messages.

In all matters related to the pandemic, we are under the direction of the Fulton County Public Health Department (FCPH). They, in turn, must adhere to guidance and directives from the New York State Department of Health. 

Since the beginning of the school year, we have worked with FCPH to do contact tracing whenever a positive case is identified in our schools, and we use ParentSquare to inform affected families because, quite frankly, we can do it faster than the state contact tracers. And when you’re dealing with a communicable disease like COVID-19, every moment counts. 

I know that many families were frustrated and angry about the timing of some contact tracing calls that we sent out over the past 24 hours. Please understand that we are working as quickly as we can to alert people of their possible exposure, not only because quarantines are an inconvenience for families, but because the sooner we contact you, the sooner you can help protect your family and your neighbors from possible exposure to COVID-19. For me, this is a moral obligation: We need to do all we can to help our community stay healthy.

I also recognize that it’s frustrating and confusing when we’re hearing the head of the CDC say we can reduce the space between children from six feet to three feet, or we hear the governor announce an end to travel-related quarantines as of April 1. However, without official guidance from the state Department of Health, and under the direction of FCPH, we must abide by the most recent guidance available:

With vaccines becoming more widely available, I know we can all see the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. But we’re not through to the other side yet. I implore you to continue to do your part to limit the spread of COVID-19, including keeping your child home from school whenever they have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in contact with someone who is sick. We will come through this together.

Stephen M. Tomlinson in cursive
Stephen Tomlinson
Superintendent of Schools