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44 students at GHS to quarantine

GLOVERSVILLE — A confirmed positive coronavirus case at Gloversville High School this week will require five staff members and 44 students to quarantine following contact tracing.

According to a letter to families issued on Wednesday by Principal Richard DeMallie and Associate Principal Dennis Bye, school officials were notified by the infected individual of the confirmed positive test when they received their results on Tuesday.

The individual who tested positive was last in the high school on Jan. 13 and was tested shortly after developing symptoms the following day.

Gloversville Enlarged School District officials worked with the Fulton County Public Health Department to complete contact tracing and notify the impacted individuals. The five staff members and 44 students currently under quarantine will be able to return to school on Monday.

The high school will remain open as regularly scheduled under the district’s hybrid model alternating between in-person and remote attendance.

The case at the high school follows a reported case at Boulevard Elementary School a day earlier that required seven staff members and 15 students from the individual’s class and the afterschool program to quarantine through today.

And a week after district officials reported on Jan. 11 that one staff member at Gloversville Middle School and one staff member at Gloversville High School tested positive for the virus. Those cases required six staff members and 19 students from the high school to quarantine following contact tracing. No one from the middle school was required to quarantine.

That was followed on Jan. 12 by an announcement from the district that two additional individuals tested positive for the coronavirus; one student at Gloversville Middle School and one student at Kingsborough Elementary School.

The additional case at the middle school required six students and 10 staff members to quarantine through the end of the week. The case at Kingsborough required three staff members and nine students to quarantine for just two days.

Each of the impacted schools remained open for in-person instruction as regularly scheduled despite the confirmed positive coronavirus cases. Only one team of seventh grade students was required to temporarily shift to fully remote instruction through the end of last week due to the limited availability of staff members.

Following announcements of the confirmed coronavirus cases, some parents took to social media calling for the district to close schools. Superintendent David Halloran throughout the year has committed to keeping schools open to in-person learning under the hybrid model, which he reaffirmed on Wednesday.

“We’ve navigated our way through the pandemic in a way that has allowed us to stay open. I am grateful for that and proud of that,” said Halloran.

Although members of the school community have tested positive for the coronavirus at times requiring other students and staff to quarantine following contact tracing due to possible exposure, according to Halloran, the infections were not contracted on-campus and so far none of the cases reported in the district have resulted in the transmission of the virus inside of schools.

“I understand people being nervous, but schools are not where this virus is spreading,” said Halloran. “It’s our use of PPE, social distancing and hybrid model reducing the number of people in attendance.”

“That is a narrative that is true across the country,” he added.

Halloran throughout the year has pointed to the importance of maximizing in-person instruction for students under current safety protocols, a push that public health experts and state and national leaders have come out in support of in recent months.

“The most effective way to educate kids is on-site,” said Halloran. “We have children’s best interest and health in mind.”

Halloran pointed out that local school districts that preemptively shifted to fully remote instruction in December amidst rising numbers of coronavirus cases and expectations that infection rates would further climb over the holidays recently resumed in-person learning.

The Greater Johnstown School District closed schools on Dec. 7 before reopening on Jan. 4. The Northville Central School District also closed schools on Dec. 7 before reopening this week on Tuesday.

Although some parents are currently calling for schools to close due to the coronavirus, Halloran said that more kids, families and district staff have indicated their support for keeping students in schools.

“The sentiments expressed on social media do not exactly represent the sentiments we are hearing from the community at large and the vast majority of the people we serve,” said Halloran. “The majority of students want to be here … Teachers are very happy by and large to be able to interact with students in classrooms two to three times a week because that’s where the magic happens.”

Halloran acknowledged that one or more district school could temporarily shift to fully remote instruction in the future if any confirmed coronavirus cases result in staff shortages due to required quarantining that prevent buildings from safely remaining open but expressed hope that the rise in infections locally may soon decline.

“We’re hoping this is the end of the holiday season spike and that between vaccinations and people social distancing we’re going to see cases diminish,” said Halloran. “I appreciate families’ trust and patience … We’re going to get through this together.”

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