PLATTSBURGH — Though an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases led Plattsburgh High School to shift to fully remote mode this week, the Board of Education-approved plan to begin a fully in-person schedule district-wide on April 12 remains in effect.
In a letter posted to the Plattsburgh City School District website, Superintendent of Schools Jay Lebrun said the current infections had been traced to social activity and gatherings that did not occur in-school.
"The (Clinton County Health Department) did inform us that social contact outside the school setting was driving the current uptick in cases," he told The Press-Republican.
BOARD ADOPTED PLAN
The school board voted 6-2 on Thursday night to OK a plan that would replace the district's hybrid modality with five days of in-person instruction following April break. Students who remain in fully remote mode — still available by governor-issued executive order to students not in academic distress — will view classes via livestream.
Board members Ron Marino and Clayton Morris, the two dissenting votes, had cited constituent concerns and suggestions to delay the plan's implementation until two weeks after the break.
But others pointed to how the "Return to In-Person Instruction" plan allows building principals greater latitude to quickly approve family's requests for their students to shift from remote to in-person learning meaning that, if they so choose, they may delay their child's return to in-person instruction anyway.
Also discussed that night were new COVID-19 cases among students that had led to about 50 being placed in quarantine, a number that continued to grow.
"While the locus of infection continues to not be the school setting, the quarantine impact for those students and faculty/staff members who are deemed to have had proximate contact is significant," Lebrun wrote in the online update.
Thus, Plattsburgh High School shifted to remote mode Monday and will remain so until Thursday. All other school buildings will remain in hybrid mode.
COVID REPORT CARD
Lebrun said PHS constituents were notified of this week's plan on Saturday evening via email. A mass-messaging phone call took place Sunday afternoon.
He could not provide additional information about the social gatherings considered the source of the cases' spread.
"We assist in contact tracing and identifying possible exposures within the school setting, but the CCHD researches contacts outside of the school setting."
According to PHS' COVID-19 report card, posted on the state Department of Health's website, nine positive cases among students were reported over the seven-day period from March 23 through Monday, six of which were reported Monday.
But a graph indicates just three of those were among on-site individuals.
Lebrun said the new cases have not had a broad impact on staffing.
"With an increasing number of employees being vaccinated, most were exempted from having to quarantine."
He estimated that the district is approaching a 60 percent vaccination rate among employees based on self-reporting.
The Board of Education held a special meeting Wednesday morning where it adopted a memorandum of agreement with the Plattsburgh Teachers' Association regarding the terms of reopening.
Lebrun had said that reopening was not dependent on that.
He anticipated that families would receive a detailed explanation of the "Return to In-Person Instruction" plan Wednesday afternoon or evening.
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