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Area schools return to pre-shutdown in-person instruction

As New York schools return to session after winter break, the state has a new rule for staying open during COVID-19: Schools in counties with a positivity level over 9% must remain below their communities’ positivity level to stay open for in-person instruction.

This will require around 20% of the student and staff population to get tested weekly, and district leaders say they are preparing for testing, if they need to do it. Testing would be done with kits from the counties.

On Sunday Franklin County had a 2.1% positivity rate in test results, with a 5.6% 7-day average of positive tests on Monday.

On Sunday Essex County had a 5.7% positivity rate in test results, with a 6.7% 7-day average of positive tests on Monday.

Clinton County, which saw a large spike over the weekend, had a 12.5% positivity rate in test results Sunday and reported a 7.8% 7-day average on Monday.

The North Country region had an 11.7% positivity rate in test results Sunday and reported a 9% 7-day average on Monday.

Saranac Lake

Schools here returned from winter break to their hybrid schedules, as they had been operating on before a COVID-19 spike this fall drove them remote for several weeks.

Kindergarten through sixth grade are in school four days a week, with Wednesdays remote for building deep cleaning.

Half of students in seventh through 12th grades returned Monday, and the other half return today. These two groups are in school two days a week, on alternating days, spending their off days remote learning. Wednesdays are again set aside for deep cleaning.

As of Monday afternoon, district Superintendent Diane Fox said 41 students at Petrova Elementary chose to return from winter break to fully remote learning instead of the remote and in-person hybrid option. There were three students at Bloomingdale Elementary fully remote, 65 at the middle school and 76 at the high school.

Fox said some students are temporarily fully remote as they quarantine after traveling for the holidays. She said she hopes people are being honest when they travel and self-quarantining when they return.

She said plans to mix cohorts more often into larger classrooms have been scrapped until the end of January, as the district is tightening back up in preparation for a possible rise in coronavirus numbers.

“We want to make sure that we get to the end of this possible increase in COVID numbers that we saw after Thanksgiving,” Fox said. “We’re trying to make sure that our cohorts stay as consistent as possible.”

She said students and teachers were glad to be back in school.

“We smiled (this morning) because our students were all loaded down with their ski pants and their stuff to go outside,” Fox said. “We’ll try to be outside as much as we can and take advantage of what the North Country offers.”

The school will continue to provide meals for free through the end of the school year. The next pick-up is on Jan. 6 at the high school and Bloomingdale Elementary School from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 6 p.m., and at the Algonquin and Lake Street apartments at 10 to 10:30 a.m.

Fully remote students will receive five days of breakfast and lunch. Students in grades seven through 12 will receive three days of lunch and breakfast. Students in kindergarten through sixth grades will bring home a lunch and breakfast on Tuesday afternoon.

Lake Placid

Schools here are returning to all-in-person instruction, as they were doing before the fall virus spike sent portions of the different schools in the district remote.

As of Monday, 65 students across the district returned to all-remote learning.

Superintendent Roger Catania said both schools’ reopening went well Monday, with administrators reemphasizing all the COVID-19 protocols. Catania said over time people forget the rules which allow them to stay in-person.

He said their efforts to do remote learning are “commendable” but that nothing beats in-person learning.

“It’s not the same as having kids in school,” Catania said. “All you have to do is walk through our hallways, listen in the open doorways and you can understand why. Kids and teachers are much more engaged when they are in the same room together.”

Tupper Lake

Schools here returned from winter break to their hybrid schedules, as they had been operating on before a COVID-19 spike this fall drove them remote for several weeks.

Kindergarten through sixth grade are in school four days a week, with Wednesdays remote for building deep cleaning.

Half of students in seventh through 12th grades returned Monday, and the other half return today. These two groups are in school two days a week, on alternating days, spending their off days remote learning. Wednesday’s are again set aside for deep cleaning.

Superintendent Russ Bartlett said 56 students through the district chose to return fully remote, which is a bit more than the 46 who were fully remote in December. He said four or five kids are quarantining after traveling over the holidays.

Bartlett said the district is resuming Wednesday meal and homework deliveries.

Bartlett said Franklin County’s COVID-19 numbers have seemed “stable” recently, and he hopes it stays that way.

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