GHS goes all-remote through January 29

GUILDERLAND — Students in eighth through 12th grade here will move to fully remote learning because of staffing shortages caused by COVID-19.

The district learned of nine more cases over the long weekend and on Tuesday, Superintendent Marie Wiles wrote in an email to district families on Tuesday evening. Two of the new cases were at Guilderland Elementary School and seven were at Guilderland High School.

“Our goal throughout this school year has been to keep school open for in-person learning …,” Wiles wrote. “That said, over the past three weeks, it has been difficult to continue hybrid instruction for grades 8-12 because of staff shortages. This afternoon, we realized we could not safely offer in-person instruction to our students in grades 8-12 this week.”

While those students will learn from home through Jan. 29, the plan will allow middle-school students to continue to attend in-person classes.

Students in self-contained classrooms will report for in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 25.

Alternative education students and students in career and technical education classes will continue to be transported to their programs.

Meals for any student will be available for pick-up at the high school on School Road in Guilderland Center between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20, and then again on Monday, Jan. 25. No sign-up is required.

According to the state’s COVID-19 Report Card, as of Tuesday night, Guilderland had had 113 cases since the start of the school year: 59 at the high school, 22 at Farnsworth Middle School, nine each at Altamont and Westmere elementary schools, seven at Lynnwood Elementary School, four at Pine Bush Elementary School, and three at Guilderland Elementary School.

 

Testing in progress

Months ago, New York State set up a system of micro-clusters zones — red being the most severe followed by orange and yellow — to tamp down on outbreaks of COVID-19.

“Even though we have met and surpassed some of those metrics here in the Capital Region, we still have not received a designation,” Wiles said at the forum.

In preparation for the designation, the school had secured BinaxNOW tests from the state. On Friday Jan. 8, Albany County’s health department said schools could use those rapid tests.

While the testing is not mandated, the county’s health commissioner, Elizabeth Whalen, said it may help in decision-making regarding the overall health and safety in schools, Wiles reported.

On Friday, Jan. 15, Guilderland began COVID-19 surveillance testing at Guilderland Elementary School. 

Testing will continue in all of Guilderland’s elementary schools and at the middle school between Wednesday, Jan. 20, and Monday, Feb. 1.

“We are currently reassessing the plan for testing at GHS given the transition to remote instruction,” Wiles wrote in her Tuesday email.

She said that about a fifth of the district’s in-person students and staff who provided consent would be tested, as long as they are not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.

People who have previously tested positive will not be tested at school. After each test is complete, the student’s parents will get an email letting them know their child was tested.

If a child tests positive, the parents will be called and will need to pick up the student from school.

Data from the testing is reported to Albany county through a secure electronic clinical laboratory reporting system, Wiles said.

The testing results, including the number of tests administered and number of positive results, will be shared on Friday, Jan. 22, and then again on Monday, Feb. 1.

If the tests show a positive rate above 10 percent the district will “strongly consider” remote-only learning, Wiles said at the Jan. 13 forum.

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