By Connor Linskey
A second wave of COVID-19 has caused local schools to close due to positive cases.
On Sunday evening, the Valley Central School District was informed that a Montgomery Elementary School (MES) student and an East Coldenham (EC) Elementary School staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
As a result, all MES and EC students engaged in remote learning on Monday to ensure that the school buildings could be properly cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the guidance of the New York State Department of Health.
The district worked collaboratively with the Orange County Department of Health to make sure that all those affected were contacted.
Both schools reopened yesterday for everyone except those who were contacted and asked to quarantine.
“We will continue to keep our school community informed regarding how this virus is affecting our schools,” Superintendent of Schools John Xanthis wrote in a letter to parents Monday. “Our priority is to inform the Orange County Department of Health and those families and staff that may have been exposed first. Please do not rely on social media commentary for information. You should contact the district or your school if you have questions, but please understand that due to medical privacy laws, we are not able to release the names of the individual(s) with COVID-19. We will continue to communicate changes and updates with you. With your participation, we believe we can create a safe and engaging experience for your children.”
On Friday afternoon, the Pine Bush Central School District learned about a staff member that worked in both Circleville Elementary School (CES) and Circleville Middle School (CVMS) tested positive for COVID-19.
The district quickly took care of contact tracing and notified students and staff that needed to quarantine. In this case, the exposure was limited to a small group of staff and students in the two buildings. Therefore, the buildings did not need to suspend in-person hybrid instruction and all other students continued with their current instructional model.
Acting Superintendent of Schools Donna Geidel noted that CES and CVMS will be cleaned and disinfected as per the New York State Department of Health guidance. Employees and sick children will not return to school/work until they are healthy after the Thanksgiving break.
On Sunday morning, the district learned about a student in Group B that attends the morning career and technical education center (CTEC) program at Orange-Ulster BOCES also tested positive. Orange-Ulster BOCES is in the process of contact tracing the students and staff in that class and Pine Bush is in the process of contact tracing those who rode that particular bus to notify them that they must quarantine through Nov. 30.
“Parents of CTEC students should be aware that this is how the process will work in the event their child is exposed while attending the program,” Geidel noted in a statement Sunday afternoon. “OU BOCES notifies the students that attend the school and Pine Bush notifies the students that rode the bus.”
On Sunday, the Wallkill Central School District was notified that one student at Leptondale Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19.
This case was not linked to the districts’ schools. The student was last in attendance on Nov. 5. The student 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, which included contact tracing. It was determined that no individuals are required to quarantine except for the individual who tested positive. Therefore, in-person learning at Leptondale Elementary School will continue with its normal in-person hybrid schedule.
Furthermore, Superintendent of Schools Kevin Castle announced Friday that the district would engage in all virtual learning from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.
“After thoughtful consideration and taking into account the impact Thanksgiving break may have on our school community, we have made a determination to pivot to remote learning from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4,” Castle said in a letter to parents and guardians.
The district plans to return to in-person learning on Dec. 7. The district will notify parents if they have to extend remote learning beyond this date.
Classroom teachers and/or building principals will provide parents/guardians with more information regarding the instructional schedule during this period of remote instruction. The district will continue to follow the Hybrid Instructional Model Calendar during this period of remote instruction.
“I apologize in advance for any burden this may place on families; however, taking this proactive approach will continue to keep our school community safe,” Castle said.