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Petrova students go remote after daycare worker tests positive

District plans to return to in-person Tuesday

Students in kindergarten through grade 3 arrive at Petrova Elementary School in Saranac Lake for the first day of class on Sept. 8. (Enterprise photo — Amy Scattergood)

SARANAC LAKE — Students attending kindergarten through sixth-grade at Petrova Elementary School will be learning remotely today, after a child-care worker at a YMCA daycare hosted inside the school building tested positive for COVID-19 Friday.

District Superintendent Diane Fox announced the news to parents in a robocall Saturday. She said the YMCA employee had last worked at Petrova Elementary School on Thursday.

On Sunday Fox said it was fortunate this happened over a weekend and that she plans to have students back to their usual hybrid in-person schedule on Tuesday, after a deep cleaning of the building.

This academic year has been a back-and-forth switch between remote and in-person learning for students here and all over, due to the global pandemic. As the threat of transmission rises, classes go online temporarily, then revert.

“We established early on that our goal was to provide as much in-person instruction as we safely could provide,” Fox said. “I think we all agree that working remotely, both for students and for staff, is not as educationally effective as being in person.”

She said although it is difficult to constantly switch between in-person and remote instruction in different buildings at different times, it is preferable to staying remote for long periods of time.

The YMCA daycare is for kindergarten through fifth-grade students who spend time there before and after school, as well as when they are learning remotely on Wednesdays.

Fox said the YMCA uses Petrova Elementary’s combined cafeteria and gym. She said custodial staff have also identified the classrooms students in the YMCA program attend and deep cleaned those, too.

Fox said Franklin County Public Health began contact tracing over the weekend.

“We were lucky in this event in that it did not quarantine our school staff,” Fox said. “We continue to work with a very small pool of available substitutes. That is the piece that is always a little hairy: ‘Will we have enough staff to be able to keep our plans in place?'”

However, she said some staff may have children of their own who attend the YMCA program.

Students at Bloomingdale Elementary School and those in grades 7 through 12 will continue with their normal schedules.

Busing for St. Bernard’s School students will follow the Wednesday schedule.

Normally, Saranac Lake’s plan is for K-6 students to be in class in person four days a week. Grades 7 to 12 have a hybrid schedule, in which they go to school two days a week and learn from home the other three. Wednesdays are remote district-wide so buildings can get extra cleaning.

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