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Person at AHS graduation tests positive

AMSTERDAM — A person who attended the Amsterdam High School Class of 2020’s diploma distribution ceremony June 27 may have been COVID-19 positive at the time. Local education and health officials are now scrambling to trace those who may have had contact.

The district didn’t indicate whether the person who had coronavirus was education staff, a student, or a family member.

The Greater Amsterdam School District website issued an item on its website indicating the Montgomery County Public Health Department notified the district this week. The notification stated that if you attended the high school’s diploma distribution ceremony for the Class of 2020 between the hours of 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday, June 27, you may have come in contact with someone who has since tested positive for COVID-19.

Officials said that if you are a Montgomery County resident who attended this event and you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or you are someone who is over the age of 55 and immunocompromised, contact the health department at (518) 853-8220 for further instructions and guidance.

District Superintendent Richard Ruberti couldn’t be reached this morning for comment.

But district spokesperson John Noetzel said the district is on the case, feeling it should immediately notify all concerned. It continues to be in touch with the state Department of Health, he said.

“We all know how this person got infected,” he said. “It could have been well before the graduation.”

Noetzel said emails were sent to high school staff who attended the ceremony.

“We had a plan and it was executed right,” he said.

The Amsterdam school district noted that COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. Infected people have had a wide range of symptoms reported — from mild symptoms to severe illness. COVID-19 symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

People with these symptoms may have COVID-19: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

Education officials said that during the AHS diploma ceremony, the district had a COVID-19 safety plan in place that followed state protocol and was reviewed and approved by the GASD SAFER Committee and county health officials. That plan included measures for distributing and wearing protective masks by all graduates, families and staff, and extensive social distancing steps throughout the event.

Graduates and families were assigned times to show up and enter the auditorium in small groups to receive their diplomas and be photographed, and asked not to linger on the grounds afterwards. Staff was on hand and present at various locations to monitor the situation.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County have seen an uptick in the past week.

On July 3, the DOH reported 119 total cases in the county, which was up to 125 reported this morning. The amount of people tested in Montgomery County was 10,687; with 1.2 percent positive results. The DOH listed Montgomery County as the place of death for five people, and four county residents passing away — the same numbers reported a week ago.

On June 30, Keymark in Fonda reported it had about 77 employees who tested positive for COVID-19, and that may be connected to a cluster of positive cases from an apple packaging plant in Oswego County. According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, the New York State Department of Health is tracking two COVID-19 clusters at two businesses in upstate New York — Keymark in Montgomery County and an apple packaging plant in Oswego County.

Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko couldn’t be reached this morning for comment.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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