NORFOLK — Norwood-Norfolk Central School students returned to school on Monday, but not the classrooms.
Following the holiday break, all students began remote learning until Wednesday, and will switch to a hybrid schedule starting Thursday. Students who attend Seaway Tech and the BOCES program at Potsdam continued with in-person instruction.
Superintendent James Cruikshank explained the reason in a letter to parents and the community — the high number of positive COVID-19 cases in St. Lawrence County.
The county logged 33 new novel coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the county’s total number of confirmed cases since the onset of the pandemic to 2,685. St. Lawrence County logged 229 new cases over the New Year’s holiday weekend — Friday through Sunday.
“We realize that this continuance of remote learning is disruptive, but we have little choice. The number of reported contacts among the faculty, staff, and community is large. By remaining remote we hope to influence and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Mr. Cruikshank said.
As of the last update on Dec. 22, the district had logged 10 COVID-19 cases, according to the state’s COVID-19 Report Card tracker. That number includes three on-site students, four off-site students, three on-site teachers and staff, and no off-site teachers and staff.
He is encouraging students, teachers, staff and family members to continue following COVID-19 protocols, including maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands frequently. Mr. Cruikshank said anyone who has symptoms should be immediately tested for COVID-19.
“It will take the entire community to overcome this latest surge,” he said.
He had previously said that if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo designated the Norwood-Norfolk area as a yellow microcluster zone, they’ll be required to test 20% of in-person students and staff within two weeks. That would be approximately 200 tests. If they’re unable to reach that 20%, they would have to move to remote instruction again.
The governor’s microcluster strategy identifies clusters and the areas around them and categorizes them into one or more color-coded zones with corresponding levels of restrictions based on severity: red zones, orange zones and yellow zones.
If testing should be necessary in the school, Mr. Cruikshank said students will not be tested without permission from their parents or guardians. He said they would look for volunteers and, between willing employees and students, they hope to reach the 20% benchmark.