Fully-Remote Learning Extension and COVID-19 Testing
As we continue to experience the devastating impacts of COVID-19, it is prudent and necessary that we continue to reassess and adjust our plans in response to changing conditions, taking into account information that has changed or did not exist at the time the decision to temporarily transition to fully-remote instruction was made.
The COVID-19 positivity rate in Oneida County is currently the highest in New York State. On September 8, the first day of school, there were 67 active cases in Oneida County. On December 8, the date on which the decision to transition to fully-remote learning was made, there were 2,800 active cases in the county. As of December 28, there are 4,936 active cases. Additionally, the region in which the Whitesboro Central School District is located was designated by New York State as a “Yellow Zone Micro-Cluster,” thereby requiring schools to test 20% of students and staff for COVID-19 to remain open for in-person learning. Lastly and tragically, COVID-19 took the life of a 4 year old boy who resided in Utica the day after Christmas. These facts cannot be overlooked as we assess our status and plans for returning to our hybrid learning model.
For these reasons, we are extending fully-remote learning through January 8. This additional time will be used to perform COVID-19 testing of students and staff prior to returning to our hybrid model, thereby eliminating the risk of transmission by those who test positive that would otherwise be present if the testing were completed after a return to in-person learning. We plan to resume hybrid learning (combination of in-person and remote learning) on January 11.
Additionally, student COVID-19 testing scheduled for Saturday, January 2 will be rescheduled for January 9. This ensures that the required testing is completed prior to students returning, which is prudent given the alarming positivity rate and volume of positive cases in our region.
Those students for whom parents reserved testing appointments for January 2 will keep the same time and location; only the date will change from January 2 to January 9. If this date change cannot be accommodated, please contact your child’s school to make alternate arrangements.
We realize these changes will have an impact on students and their families; however, it will give us the opportunity to reopen to in-person learning in the safest manner possible. We appreciate your continued support and understanding as we navigate this ever-changing situation.
Dr. Brian K. Bellair
Superintendent of Schools