School COVID cases triple in Columbia County

Schools continue to report COVID cases.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Columbia County school districts has nearly tripled since the beginning of October.

Since the start of the school year, school districts have reported anywhere from six to 106 confirmed COVID cases, according to the New York State COVID-19 Report Card. The state COVID-19 Report Card tracks testing and positive cases in each school in the state. All school districts are required to report COVID-19 test results for students, teachers and staff to the Health Department daily.

One month into the school year, according to the tracker, there had been a total of 74 positive cases in the six county school districts since opening day. As of Nov. 15, the total positive cases have reached 216.

New Lebanon Central School District reported six total confirmed cases, according to the report card. The district serves 400 students. One month in, New Lebanon had three cases — two students and one staff.

Germantown Central School District had four student cases after one month in classrooms, and to date, nine total cases have been reported, according to the report card. There are about 520 students in the district.

Germantown School Superintendent Benjamin Bragg said shortly after school began that the district has been working to mitigate potential cases.

“We’re making sure students are following the procedures as well as staff,” Bragg said. “The spacing of 3 feet, wearing masks, sanitizing, following the Department of Health guidance, has really supported the low number of cases.”

Chatham Central School District reported 29 total cases since the year began, according to the tracker, up from three student cases one month into the year. The district serves about 950 students.

“The district will communicate directly with families affected by confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as close contacts to positive cases, but we will not email the entire school following each individual case,” according to a district statement on its website. “We continue to work closely with the Columbia County Department of Health and follow their guidance each time there is a positive case reported to us.”

Both Taconic Hills Central Schools and Hudson City Schools have reported 33 cases. Taconic began the year with 18 cases after the first month with its 1,400 students, while Hudson reported eight, according to the tracker.

“HCSD continues to work closely with the Columbia County Department of Health and follow their guidance each time our district has a positive case,” according to the city school district website.

Hudson, which serves 1,700 students, also issued a reminder to school bus riders Sept. 23 about the importance of bus seating charts to avoid unnecessary quarantining.

“If students do not remain in their assigned seats and a positive case is reported on a bus, we are unable to identify who was sitting within 6 feet of the positive individual. Without seating charts, we have to put the entire bus on a mandatory 10-day quarantine if a positive case is reported – even for students who were not actually close contacts. We do not want this situation to negatively impact our families or our students’ educations, so we urge you to speak with your child(ren) about the importance of staying in their assigned seats on the school bus to avoid unnecessary quarantines,” Superintendent Maria Lagana Suttmeier said.

Ichabod Crane Central Schools, which serves 1,700 students, began the year with 38 total cases, and as of Nov. 15, the district reported 106 cases, according to the tracker.

“Ichabod got hit pretty hard,” Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said after the school year began. “That’s a lot for that size school district. I think that there is still that concept out there that some people just really do spread it more quickly and more readily than others.”

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