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Opinion: Wellsville schools should be going remote due to Covid-19

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Superintendent David Foster Responds

From Staff Reports, 10/15/21

This morning, the Wellsville Sun received two opinions concerning the COVID infections at Wellsville Central School.

After hearing from a reader and getting an opinion from a teacher, Wellsville Superintendent David Foster agreed to comment on the subject.

In a statement, Foster said, ““Currently, Wellsville has three known student cases. In-school instruction is the preferred means of delivering education to students because of the critical developmental need for students to be social with their peers and promote emotional health.”

The cases caused the Wellsville football team to cease operations for 10 days. Coach Bob McMorris said the team will not practice again until Sunday, Oct. 24 and it appears they will miss out on playing two games.

One reader said, “It is deeply disturbing that the Wellsville High School has not gone remote with a significant Covid outbreak underway. Why is protecting the health and safety of students and staff not the highest priority? It is well established that remote learning is completely viable. How many have to be sick and quarantined to qualify as a threat? What is the threshold and why do we not know it? What is the reasoning for not going remote? Money? Difficulty with logistics? How much is a life worth? How much is a life permanently affected with health issues worth? Inaction is a significant decision in and of itself.”

A staff member addressed the safety and spread issues, and said, “As far as I know there is no outbreak at school. There have been positive cases of both students and staff, but to my knowledge no in-school spread. I feel as safe at school as anywhere else and the students appear to feel safe (they have been attending sporting events, homecoming dance, and other extracurriculars.) My impression is that no one wants to go to the remote option. And I have heard nothing that would lead me to believe that that is even being considered.”

Foster listened to the concerns. He said the school is taking advantage of contact tracing utilizing Allegany County Department of Health’s close contact guidance. The investigation has led to no close contacts from these positive cases. He said the District is in regular communication with the Department of Health and our school physician and would consult with them regarding moving to complete remote learning. 

Foster outlined what the district is doing and said his door is open to anyone with concerns.

“We have implemented rapid COVID testing with parental consent for students who exhibit symptoms during the school day,” Foster said. “This testing has allowed students and families to avoid quarantine periods and return to school more quickly when their symptoms subside. These students’ families have appreciated the recent rapid testing ability. 

“We remind our families that the most effective strategies for minimizing COVID in schools are vaccination, where possible, and keeping students home when they don’t feel well. My door is open to anyone with concerns,” Foster added.

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