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Allegany Hope: Covid Cases in Schools

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From Casey Jones, Editor, Allegany Hope Community News, 9/20/21

UPDATE – 8:57AM: Only the impacted program at BOCES has moved to virtual classes for this week. The current announcement is at https://caboces.org/covid-19-update.

 CA BOCES classes at Belmont have moved to virtual learning this week due to an individual from a program at the site having tested positive for COVID-19.

BOCES posted the information to its website this morning, saying it “recently received notification from the Allegany County Department of Health” in regard to the case and “proper contact tracing and testings is currently in progress,” with impacted students, parents and teachers to be contacted by the county.

It isn’t known whether the positive is a student from a participating school district or a member of the BOCES faculty or staff.

The only county school district which has provided public disclosure of a COVID case is Andover Central School District where there now have been nine positives reported between a week ago Thursday and last Friday. The sequence of cases and public statements by the school, however, would indicate the district may not be the source of the new BOCES situation.

Classes do continue today at Andover after five public notifications in less than 10 days.

Single positives recorded Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday last week were reported to the public by School Superintendent Derek Schuelein after an outbreak of six cases the preceding Thursday and over that weekend.

None of the first seven cases were reported by the county, as a result of our Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, to have been residents within the Town of Andover, with district boundaries extending into adjoining areas.

We haven’t yet received a response from the county health department to our subsequent FOIL request regarding county COVID cases and locations which have occurred since last Tuesday.

The superintendent said that one of the original cases, which also created six quarantines of individuals in contact with positives, resulted from improper use of a mask, resulting in the district going to a full mask policy all the time for all students and staff inside its building, except for meals, and singing and wind instruments use for which there are additional precautions.

In a Wednesday notice, he said the district was seeing “a concerning number of students being sent to school who are ill, and whom we then need to send home. Please be reminded that students should never be sent to school when they are ill. This was a long-standing practice before anyone had ever heard of COVID, and it is all the more critical now.”

On Friday he noted that “(a)s with several of our more recent cases from this week, the limited scope of this case was directly attributable to more appropriate and consistent mask-wearing throughout the building,” as he encouraged parents and caregivers to reenforce with their children the need to be diligent about this practice.

The state online COVID Report Card is being updated, with no information having been provided during the current school year.

The public was able to use the website during the last school year to view daily the number of cases reported by testing companies, along with those submitted by school districts each day.
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