MASSENA — Citing a significant spread of the coronavirus in Massena this week, the Massena Central School District announced Friday evening that all students would take part in remote learning, which will begin on Thursday and run until Oct. 13.
Classes had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Superintendent Patrick Brady said in consultation with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, they made the decision to start with remote learning rather than in-person sessions for the safety of the students, staff and the wider Massena community.
“To provide time for the assessment of the current spread of the virus including the quarantine process for staff and students, remote learning which will begin on September 10th will continue until October 13th. We will reassess at that time if it will be safe to reopen for in-person learning,” he said in a release Friday evening.
The original schedule called for pre-kindergarten students to be assigned to an A or B group and attend school for half a day, resulting in every-other-day face-to-face instruction. Mondays would have been at home extension activities.
Kindergarten students were scheduled to have a digital day on Monday, and would have attended half-day sessions Tuesday through Friday, with Group A in the morning and Group B in the afternoon.
Students in grades one and two were set to attend in-person instruction Tuesday through Friday, with Monday as a digital day. Students in grades three through 12 would have also had digital instruction on Mondays, and face-to-face instruction in school every other day, while attending remotely on opposite days.
Parents could have also opted to have their students stay home for complete remote instruction. Mr. Brady had said about 24% of the district’s families had opted for remote instruction.
Now, with the spread of the coronavirus, Mr. Brady said they were playing it safe with total remote instruction.
“This week, the Massena community has seen a significant spread of the coronavirus with 14 new cases and over 100 contacts. The cluster of cases is one of the largest we have witnessed at one time since the virus was introduced in the area back in March. This has led to many people to quarantine in the Massena community including a growing amount of our students and staff at Massena Central,” he said.
According to the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, their investigation is on-going, he said in the release, and there is uncertainty as to the extent of the spread.
“We hope it levels off very soon,” Mr. Brady said.
He said they have always maintained that the safe and successful reopening of in-person learning would need to be done when there was a low prevalence of the coronavirus.
“I recognize that this announcement will come with great disappointment as our students and families were ready to begin some sense of normalcy with school life. We know this is a hardship on many of our families,” Mr. Brady said.
Teachers, staff and administration at the school have spent significant time preparing for the students’ return, he said, along with various modes of learning to support both remote and in-person instruction.
“The timing of this current community spread of the virus is regrettable and I share in this disappointment,” he said.
In the next few days, the district will be providing more specific information about how remote learning will work for students.