Catskill delays hybrid learning

Hybrid learning for Catskill students has been delayed due to a staff member at the elementary school testing positive for COVID-19. File photo

CATSKILL — Hybrid learning at Catskill Central School District will be delayed due to a positive COVID-19 case, District Superintendent Ronel Cook said Saturday.

The positive test turned up in a school employee, not a student, Cook said. He did not say where in the district the employee works or in what department.

The school was using a phased approach, with all students learning remotely until Tuesday when hybrid learning would become an option.

Hybrid learning, which about 63% of families selected in a recent school district poll, will be delayed through Wednesday, Cook said, as the district awaits guidance from Greene County Public Health.

“It has come to my attention that an employee in our elementary school has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Cook said. “I am working diligently to confirm this through the Health Department and implement any directives and recommendations they share with me as to how our district should proceed.”

The campus was thoroughly cleaned and disinfected Saturday, Cook said.

Students will continue with virtual learning Tuesday and Wednesday, Cook said.

“I will provide you with further information regarding the start of the hybrid in-person instruction model as soon as communication takes place with the Greene County Public Health Department,” he said.

In the hybrid model, students are divided into two groups. Group A will attend school on Mondays and Tuesdays and Group B will attend on Thursdays and Fridays. All students will have virtual instruction on Wednesdays, when a cleaning crew will scour all buildings. The crew will clean again on Saturdays.

Greenville Central School had its first positive case, a middle school teacher, Oct. 2.

Sixth-grade students switched to virtual learning for two weeks as a precaution, according to a letter District Superintendent Tammy Sutherland sent to parents.

The district will continue to follow a thorough cleaning and disinfecting schedule of the school grounds, according to the letter. Daily screenings for staff and students prior to the start of the school day will continue.

“In these challenging times, rest assured that the district’s priority is protecting the health, welfare and safety of students and staff while complying with government orders and guidance related to the opening of schools,” Sutherland wrote in the letter.

Greenville elementary students receive in-person instruction Monday through Friday. Middle and high school students use a hybrid model in which they are broken into two groups: “Spartan” and “STRONG” and alternate attending school for two days and then attending remotely for two days. About 19% of students opted for the fully remote learning model.

Hudson City School District did not adjust its schedule after an elementary student tested positive Sept. 28.

“At this time, the Columbia County Department of Health has not advised the district to alter operations in any way and the school building will remain open as scheduled,” according to the district website.

The student had not been in school or on a school bus, according to the district’s website.

Hudson gradually phased students into a hybrid learning model by grade level.

Ichabod Crane also did not make any changes, according to the county Health Department, when a middle school student tested positive Oct. 5.

“Because the student has not been in a school building since [Sept. 15], we have been advised by the Columbia County Department of Health that there is no need to change our operations,” according to the district website. “This means school buildings will continue operating on their normal schedule and there is no district impact at this time.”

Ichabod Crane phased in students slowly by grade level. The number of Greene County’s COVID cases has been on the rise, going from five to 47 cases in less than two weeks. Columbia County reported 13 active cases Sunday.

A majority of the Greene County cases can be attributed to Greene Correctional Facility in Coxsackie, which had 31 cases Friday.

Mass testing of all asymptomatic inmates at the facility is underway, state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision spokesman Thomas Mailey said.

Visitation resumed at maximum-security prisons statewide Aug. 5 and in all other facilities Aug. 8. Visitors are subjected to health screenings and temperature checks.

“Any individual that is COVID-19 positive or in quarantine as part of a contact trace is not allowed a visit,” Mailey said.

Inmates who test positive are isolated for a minimum of 14 days until their symptoms are gone and the individual has had no fever for 72 hours without the aid of medicine, Mailey said.

Throughout all the state correctional facilities, 1,362 employees have tested positive, with about 97% recovering and returning to work as of Monday. DOCCS is unable to provide a breakdown of staff cases by facility, Mailey said, citing privacy reasons. Of the 820 inmate cases statewide, 759 have recovered.

A total of five staff members, 17 inmates and four parolees have died from the virus across the state as of Monday, according to doccs.ny.gov.

Coxsackie Correctional has had one positive case, according to doccs.ny.gov. Hudson Correctional Facility has had no cases.

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