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Two GESD staff members test positive, will remain open

GLOVERSVILLE — Gloversville Middle and High School will remain open for in-person instruction today after one staff member at each building tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Gloversville Enlarged School District on Monday reported that one staff member at Gloversville Middle School and one staff member at Gloversville High School tested positive for the virus, requiring six staff members and 19 students to quarantine due to possible exposure following contact tracing.

District families were alerted to the confirmed positive cases through online posts and an All-Call robocall message and letter from Superintendent David Halloran.

“Our hope is for a speedy recovery for the two affected individuals. Neither of these cases were a result of school transmission and as far as we know, we continue to have zero cases of COVID-19 transmission in our schools,” wrote Halloran.

The district last publicly reported confirmed coronavirus cases among the school community on Dec. 11, notifying the community that four students in three separate buildings had tested positive for the virus which required 12 staff members and 30 students to quarantine.

Yet according to the COVID-19 School Report Card maintained by the state from data confirmed by school districts, there have been seven confirmed coronavirus cases among Gloversville students and two cases among staff members in the last recorded seven-day period from Jan. 4 through Sunday. Since the start of the school year in September, the report card has recorded 22 total students and seven staff members who have tested positive for the virus.

Halloran addressed concerns from community members regarding the district’s communication of confirmed coronavirus cases during Monday’s regular Board of Education meeting, saying that the district has not publicly reported some cases that did not require any students or staff members to quarantine.

“I’m trying to strike a balance of being transparent and communicative when it’s necessary without inundating the community with reports of every person, student who positively tests for this virus. If there is no need for anybody else to quarantine, if a student has not been in school for a week, nobody else is impacted, I’ve made decisions to not necessarily broadcast that,” said Halloran.

The district has released information regarding the confirmed positive cases that have required other individuals to quarantine, according to Halloran, who said the district is trying to strike a balance between keeping the community informed and causing either panic or apathy through over communication.

“We do our best to inform the community without necessarily trying to cause panic,” said Halloran. “And I don’t want people who are getting my calls to start thinking it does not apply to them. I’m trying to have a measured response in how we communicate to the community so that they trust us in what we are doing with all things COVID related. It’s a difficult line to navigate, but I’m confident that we’re doing the best we can to strike that balance.”

Halloran noted that to date there have been no known instances of transmission of the coronavirus within Gloversville schools or in any school district within the HFM BOCES region, pointing to the health safety protocols implemented at school buildings at the start of the academic year as effective at keeping students and staff safe.

“COVID-19 is in the community, it is on the rise, but it is not being transmitted in our schools and the infection rate in the schools remains very low,” said Halloran. “We’re proud of the fact that the Gloversville school system has remained open for our hybrid instructional model. I certainly believe in-person learning is the most conducive for students and we’re proud to say that there has been zero COVID transmission in our schools.”

While a number of local school districts temporarily shifted to fully remote instruction ahead of the holidays in anticipation of the ongoing rise in coronavirus cases, Halloran has repeatedly committed to keeping district schools open for instruction under the district’s hybrid learning model alternating between in-person and remote attendance as long as it remains safe and feasible to do so based in part on the availability of staff.

The hybrid model was adopted to reduce density on campus in accordance with state coronavirus protocols and Halloran has consistently urged parents to send their children to school under the hybrid model as the best educational option currently available.

“As time goes on, students’ education is being impacted without a doubt. Our best-case scenario is students on site every other day,” said Halloran. “They are not contracting COVID in school, there is an obvious difference between student performance for those in the hybrid model and those who are fully remote … our students in the hybrid model are performing much better than our students in the fully remote model.”

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