Four football games canceled this weekend could be just the start of changes at local schools as COVID-19 numbers climb across the region.
A Thursday night matchup between Sandy Creek and Beaver River was called off, then Friday night games between Potsdam and St. Lawrence and between Ogdensburg and Massena were canceled. A game today between Canton and Malone was also called off.
“In our conversations with Public Health the big question that we all have is, ‘when are we going to start to plateau?’ The answer at this point is, not yet,” St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Thomas R. Burns said.
COVID cases are surging in schools across the north country.
“We are now at record highs,” Mr. Burns said. “We’re higher than we were in January of 2021.”
The quarantine list for school-related individuals was over 900 in the last days of September, he said. In the last school year, that list was never more than 800 people.
“To my knowledge we are still going up,” Mr. Burns said.
Parishville-Hopkinton is right now the only school in St. Lawrence County to shift to fully remote learning, Mr. Burns said. Decisions on remote learning are made at the district level, he said.
On the New York State Public School COVID-19 dashboard, Parishville-Hopkinton has 13 total positive cases.
Positive cases among students is likely not going to be the cause of shutdowns this school year, Mr. Burns said. A bigger factor will be cases among staff and faculty.
In Ogdensburg, there are 61 positive cases — 29 at the junior and senior high building and 27 at Kennedy Elementary. Madill Elementary has five cases.
Neighboring Lisbon Central School doesn’t have any cases.
All schools are following the same testing protocols, Mr. Burns said.
Other school districts with a high number of positive cases include Massena Central with 33, Madrid-Waddington Central with 31, Gouverneur Central with 36 and Norwood-Norfolk Central and Potsdam Central with 23 each.
Clifton-Fine and Harrisville are reporting zero positive cases.
In Jefferson County, Watertown schools report 83 positive cases. Carthage has 42 and Indian River has 41.
Mr. Burns said schools will consider more than the number of positive cases when it comes to moving to remote learning.
Schools provide much more than an education, he added. Schools provide food, a warm place in winter and safety and security for a lot of students.
“The best place for these kids to be is in school,” he said.