POTSDAM — Potsdam High School is switching to fully remote learning after a second case of COVID-19 was confirmed within the school district Thursday.
The school district confirmed its first COVID-19 case late Wednesday evening.
In a letter to parents Thursday afternoon, Potsdam Central School District Superintendent Joann M. Chambers said high school students would switch to remote learning until Oct. 2, while elementary and middle school students would continue with in-person classes while the situation continues to be monitored.
“As of this afternoon, we are aware of two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our school district. We are working very closely with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department to expedite the contact tracing process,” Ms. Chambers wrote in the letter to parents. “If your child came in contact with someone who tested positive, you will be contacted directly by Public Health. Our rigorous health and safety protocols, along with the smaller in-person class sizes, have helped to mitigate the number of potential student contacts. However, some Potsdam High School students will be directed by SLC Public Health to quarantine and seek testing for COVID-19.”
No in-person classes are held on Fridays as part of the district’s original reopening plan. Ms. Chambers said all district facilities will remain open and faculty will continue to work out of the building while students are remote.
Potsdam schools reopened with most schools in the county last week. It’s the first school district in the county to have moved students to remote learning following a COVID outbreak at the school. Massena’s schools did not open with the rest of the county due to a significant spike in cases in the community within the last few weeks.
Roughly a third of Potsdam students are currently learning online, while the remainder are on a staggered schedule. Each student has their temperature checked prior to entering the building each day and masks are required. The letter from Ms. Chambers encourages parents to continue monitoring students for symptoms, namely fever, at home.
Earlier this week, St. Lawrence County Board of Health President Dr. Andrew F. Williams, in addressing the county Board of Legislators, said all school districts in the county, including Potsdam, were considered to be in the “green zone” for reopening. This was based off of a whitepaper from the Harvard Global Health Institute.
At Potsdam’s Board of Education meeting last week, Ms. Chambers and other school administrators reported that on the first day of school, most safety precautions were being followed successfully and administration was cautiously optimistic moving forward.
As of 6 p.m. Thursday, neither COVID-19 case was reflected on the state’s newly released COVID dashboard for K-12 schools.