Recent positive COVID-19 cases have caused local school districts to change learning formats.
On Oct. 29, the Valley Central School District was informed that two Valley Central High School students tested positive for COVID-19.
As a result, on Monday, Valley Central High School opened for in-person instruction for its in-person team (five day a week students) only. The remaining High School students will continue to be provided with virtual learning until Nov. 10. On that date, Team 2 will return for in-person learning, unless they are still in quarantine.
“The length of the closing is due to our inability to staff our classrooms, study halls and cafeterias due to the number of teachers and paraprofessionals in quarantine,” Superintendent of Schools John Xanthis said in a letter posted on the district’s website.
Instruction will continue on the same nine period schedule with synchronous instruction taking place. Administrators, teachers and staff that are not in quarantine will be working from the High School, while quarantined teachers will provide instruction on the nine period schedule from their homes.
On Sunday the district was informed that a Montgomery Elementary School (MES) teacher tested positive for COVID-19.
This caused all MES students to engage in remote learning on Monday to ensure that the building was properly cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the guidance of the New York State Department of Health.
The school reopened yesterday for all students who were not directed to quarantine.
For the cases at both the High School and MES, the District and the Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH) contacted the parents and guardians of all students and staff that they determined to be probable close contacts in the school buildings and buses. Close contacts were ordered to quarantine.
Xanthis encouraged parents and guardians to check their child’s temperature each morning and check for COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone with a fever of 100 degrees or more, or any symptom of COVID-19 must remain home and parents/guardians should contact their health care provider and school nurse for further procedures/protocols.
According to the OCDOH, the specific symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
On Oct. 25, an individual at Circleville Elementary School (CES) tested positive for COVID-19. The district completed the contact tracing and students and staff that had direct contact with the individual were directed to quarantine for 14 days.
Students who were contacted transitioned to virtual learning, while others remained on their current instructional plans.
In the two days following the students’ positive test, the district and the OCDOH conducted simultaneous investigations. As a result, they learned about four additional positive cases and other possible direct contacts outside of school.
CES students transitioned to all virtual learning Oct. 28. They will return to school for hybrid learning on Tuesday, Nov. 10. CES staff will continue to report to school and conduct instruction from there since the other staff direct contacts have already been quarantined.
The district announced on Oct. 27 that they had learned of two additional positive cases, one at Pakanasink Elementary School and one at Circleville Middle School. Both of these cases were already quarantining due to previous contact tracing. There was no change to learning plans at either school.
“I regret that I have to share this difficult news with you but wanted to keep all of you updated so that you are aware that we are dedicated to keeping everyone as safe as possible,” said Acting Superintendent Donna Geidel.
On the evening of Oct. 31, the Wallkill Central School District was notified that two students at Wallkill Senior High School and one student at Leptondale Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19.
Two students were last in attendance on Oct. 26 while the other was last in attendance on Oct. 20. The students who tested positive will remain in isolation in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines.
The district collaborated with the Ulster County Department of Health to thoroughly assess the situation and it was determined that no individuals were required to quarantine except for the three students who tested positive.
The High School will continue with remote learning through Nov. 6 and will return to in-person learning on Nov. 9. This decision was made due to the high number of faculty and staff who were mandated to quarantine at both the High School and Middle School. Leptondale will continue with its in-person learning schedule.
Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle encouraged parents/guardians to reinforce COVID-19 protocols on their children.
“Since the start of the school year we have been thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting our buildings and will continue to do so daily,” Castle said in a letter posted on the district’s website. “In addition, the requirement to wear a mask throughout the day, social distancing and proper hygiene helps to minimize the spread of the virus to others. Therefore, please continue to emphasize to your child the importance of wearing a mask, complying with six-feet social distancing and washing their hands. Most importantly, if your child is sick, keep them home.”