Public Health Update: 1/13/22

Public Health Update: 1/13/22
Posted on 01/13/2022
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New York State Department of Health Updates - January 13, 2022

Dear Parent/Guardian: 

I would like to begin by apologizing for the continuing flow of Public Health Updates.  I realize that it is confusing and frustrating for everyone involved.  Public Health realizes this as well and they ask that we be patient with them as they work to assist everyone with providing the most recent and accurate information as the guidance continues to be in a state of flux.
The information below has the most recent New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) changes to Isolation, Quarantine and contact tracing.
Additionally, at the bottom of this message, is an updated flow chart reflecting and clarifying the NYSDOH guidance issued on January 10, 2022.
This information in this update is current as of Wednesday, January 12, 2022, and is subject to further revisions as Public Health receives additional modifications based on the course of the pandemic.
Thank you for your attention, patience and continued support!
Ivan J. Katz, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Public Health Update Summary

January 12, 2022

This information below supersedes previous guidance provided by Sullivan County Public Health Services to Sullivan County K-12 schools.
Changes to Isolation and Quarantine

On January 10, 2022, the New York State Department of Health updated the guidance for COVID-19 quarantine and isolation in the school setting. Sullivan County Public Health Services (SCPHS) has agreed to these changes. They have implemented this guidance, effective immediately, which shortens quarantine/isolation time for students and staff in many instances to 5 days under certain conditions.
Public Health continues to encourage those who test positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate themselves and to notify their close contacts that they may have been exposed.  
Due to the extremely high number of cases, Public Health has determined that contact tracing does not provide meaningful support in reducing the spread of COVID-19 with the exception of those in congregate settings such as schools, nursing homes, group homes, and incarceration facilities. Thus they have discontinued COVID-19 contact tracing for the general public unless otherwise directed by the New York State Department of Health.
The new self-attestation form is now available online at: This portal will allow all residents to report a positive test and receive an isolation affirmation form or a quarantine affirmation form depending on the individual situation. Those needing assistance can call Public Health at (845) 513-2268.
This portal was designed as a result of the enormous number of positive cases of COVID-19. The increase in cases means health departments cannot provide isolation/quarantine orders as quickly as necessary, nor the subsequent documentation to clear an individual to return to work or school. As a result, these "self-attestation" forms are being provided to allow individuals to directly obtain the necessary documentation for return to work or school, or for paid leave. New York State will also be rolling out a similar portal, but if a county isolation or quarantine order is needed by an employer, Public Health suggests that individuals use the county portal.
What does this mean for schools and contact tracing?

As of today, only 15.6% of children ages 5-11 and 47.7% of children ages 12-17 in Sullivan County have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine; while only 11.2% of children ages 5-11 and 42.8% of children ages 12-17 have received a completed two dose series.
Due to the low vaccination rates among children in Sullivan County, Public Health strongly recommends that schools continue to conduct internal contact tracing efforts.  This recommendation is in place so that appropriate action may be taken by parents and schools to quarantine staff and children who have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19. This recommendation is in place to limit health risks and continued spread of illness in the school setting. Schools will continue to conduct contact tracing but no longer need to report those contacts to Sullivan County Public Health Services.
Test-to-Stay Programs

The NYS Department of Health (NYSDOH) has said that soon it will be updating the “Test-to-Stay” (TTS) memo last updated December 23, 2021, to account for the new changes in isolation and quarantine for school setting, for schools who choose to opt-in to TTS. Sullivan County Public Health has given the approval for schools to choose TTS as a strategy.  The Fallsburg Central School District is exploring and considering the Test-to-Stay strategy and awaits updated guidance so that we can move forward. 

Public Health is continuing to encourage vaccinations as the safest way to ensure minimal spread of the virus and to limit the possibility of widespread serious illness, especially in children ages 5-18 and high-risk individuals with underlying health conditions (such as diabetes, hypertension, or weakened immune systems).  Per Sullivan County Public Health, pediatric hospitalizations have increased statewide and are mostly impacting unvaccinated children.  
Vaccinations have been very effective and they continue to be a key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing severe illness and hospitalizations. Sullivan County offers weekly vaccine clinics at the Public Health Service offices in Liberty. For more information on vaccine clinics, as well as vaccine availability at other locations throughout the county, please visit
Public Health has stated that they clearly understand how very frustrating this process continues to be.   They are working hard to provide clear direction and clarification to schools.