Schools brace for holiday surge

Scott M. Ellis Elementary School was closed until November, after three students and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Sarah Trafton/Columbia-Greene Media/File

GREENVILLE — Scott M. Ellis Elementary School reopened to students Monday, after closing due to a number of COVID-19 cases.

About 350 elementary students switched to remote learning two weeks ago when three elementary students and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. More than 130 students and 25 staff members were placed in quarantine.

“Today, all of our students and staff are back in person on campus,” Greenville Superintendent Tammy Sutherland said. “The exposure did not spread to any additional student or staff member.”

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

The first student case, a fifth grader, was linked to the outbreak at Greene Correctional Facility.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision administered more than 1,150 tests to inmates. Of those tests, 137 were positive and 41 remained active on Friday. One additional test was pending.

The facility has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases among state prisons, behind Elmira. Visitation at Elmira and Greene correctional facilities was suspended Oct. 21.

More than 1,500 correctional employees statewide have tested positive for the virus.

The inmates continue to make up a large portion of the county’s COVID-19 cases, with 57% of Friday’s cases stemming from the facility, according to the Greene County Public Health Department.

Previous cases at Greene County schools include a middle-school teacher at Greenville on Oct. 2, which led to sixth-grade students learning remotely for two weeks; an elementary-school employee at Catskill on Oct. 10, which delayed the start of hybrid learning by two days; and a junior-high student at Hunter-Tannersville on Oct. 29.

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