Potsdam High School made a decision last week that will likely become a trend across the state.
Two individuals connected with the school were recently confirmed to have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. So the Potsdam Central School District opted to revert to remote learning for high school students until Oct 2.
“As of this afternoon, we are aware of two confirmed cases of [coronavirus] in our School District. We are working very closely with the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department to expedite the contact tracing process,” according to a letter sent Thursday to parents from Superintendent Joann M. Chambers. “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 [coronavirus].”
Elementary and middle school students within Potsdam Central School District still have the option of in-person instruction. This is the first district in St. Lawrence County to adopt remote learning due to a coronavirus outbreak since schools reopened earlier this month. Massena Central School District won’t start in-person classes until Oct. 13 due to an outbreak of 22 cases of coronavirus in the area just before the scheduled beginning of the academic year on Sept. 8.
Many other school districts are bound to put similar measures into place during over the next nine months. In discussing the potential reopening of schools, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said this may occur.
This raises the question of whether any districts should have been allowed to offer in-person instruction at all. It’s far too chaotic for parents and guardians to send students to school only to need to plan to keep them home for a few weeks if new reports of infection are made within their communities.
Families need the stability of knowing when they’ll have to keep their children home ahead of time. Last-minute notices will throw a wrench into their ability to juggle all the responsibilities they have.
State authorities should revisit the option of keeping all schools closed for at least this semester. The on-again, off-again schedule of in-person instruction will wreak havoc with local families, who are now confronting enough serious challenges as it is.