More coronavirus data needed

MASSENA ­— All students at J.W. Leary Junior High School in Massena have switched to remote learning until Nov. 20 after officials determined there were more staff members in contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 than originally anticipated. The remote learning model begins Tuesday.

School officials made the announcement late Monday on the district’s Facebook page. 

They noted earlier one positive case of COVID-19 had been identified among the staff at the junior high, but felt that because of limited contact, there was no need to close the school’s doors at the time. They said there had also been one confirmed case in the district’s Transportation Department. 

“Over the weekend, we have been made aware of two additional cases of COVID-19 within the Massena Central School District. Due to limited contacts with the positive individuals, we do not expect either case will lead to school closure at this time,” officials said at the time.

Since then, they have determined there was more of an impact at the junior high than originally thought.

The news came on a day when St. Lawrence County officials declared a state of emergency because of rising number of COVID-19 cases. Regional superintendents met Monday afternoon to discuss the spike in COVID-19 cases and the potential impact on school districts.

“In a meeting with regional superintendents this afternoon, leaders of Public Health and county administration did not ask school districts in the region to close unless cases in their schools warrant this decision,” officials said.

They said, in Massena’s case, “We will continue to monitor local cases and make decisions on school closures based on the facts of each case and in collaboration with Public Health as we did with Madison Elementary last week and the Junior High this week,” they said.

A positive case of COVID-19 was found among the student population at Madison Elementary School last week, and all students shifted to remote learning on Thursday and Friday. Parents and guardians were advised of the positive case via the district’s notification system, and Superintendent Patrick Brady posted the information on the district’s Facebook page.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Report Card online tracker, the district has reported 14 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning — nine among off-site and on-site students at Madison Elementary School and Massena Central High School, and five among off-site and on-site teachers and staff at Madison Elementary, the junior high and the high school.

“We know there will be questions and concerns and while we cannot share details identifying the positive individual, I can assure you that if you came in contact with the positive individual, you will be contacted directly by the St. Lawrence County Department of Public Health,” officials said.

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