Two test positive for COVID-19 at GHS, classes continue

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Guilderland High School Principal Michael Piscitelli stood in front of the school in June to bid graduates a fond farewell.

GUILDERLAND — Classes at Guilderland High School are being held as usual this after the school announced Monday that there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the school community. On Wednesday, the district announced a second case at the high school.

“We were very fortunate that the exposure was minimal and did not affect many people or our program,” Guilderland High School Principal Michael Piscitelli said in an email, answering Enterprise questions on Tuesday afternoon. “We have been able to cover all the classrooms with our internal staff.”

“The district worked with the Albany County Department of Health and determined that the risk of transmission was minimal and everyone exposed has been contacted,” said a notice posted on the district website Monday.

The district cited the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for not disclosing further information about the infected individual.

 The NYS COVID-19 Report Card, however, says that a “Teacher/Staff” member tested positive. The Report Card lists COVID-19 test results daily for schools across the state.

As of Wednesday evening, the second Guilderland High School case had not yet been posted.

Superintendent Marie Wiles emailed a letter to “GCSD Families” on Wednesday, with the same information posted to the district’s website, which said the school is working closely with the county’s health department and advised, “For anyone exposed, the Albany County Department of Health will reach out and advise on the need to quarantine and arrange for testing.”

Wiles also wrote, “I understand that this news can be unsettling and cause for concern.” She advised staying informed and following health guidelines by saying six feet from others “even if you don’t feel sick or have any symptoms,” wearing a face mask, staying home when sick, and limiting home visitors.

Asked about the atmosphere at the school on Tuesday, Piscitelli said, “The tenor of the building today has been pretty positive. I have heard from staff that have concerns and are interested in our protocols. I have not heard much concern expressed by our community. Attendance may be down a bit but that is hard to gauge in this environment since attendance fluctuates frequently.”

He concluded, “In our open house address that is going out to parents this week I talked about how pleased I have been with how our school community is following the safety protocols. Students and staff have been pretty diligent about mask wearing, following our one-way hallways, and staying away from group gatherings. We continue to hope that our families will keep supporting these practices at school and at home.”

 As of Wednesday evening, Guilderlanld has four COVID-19 cases so far this school year. The first two were noted on Sept. 18, in two different households, related to Altamont Elementary School. A first-grade class and a third-grade class at Altamont Elementary have been quarantined along with a handful of teachers while in-person instruction continues at the school.

Altamont Elementary School’s quarantined classes and teachers are expected to return to the school on Friday, Oct. 2.

Guilderland had one of Albany County’s first two cases of COVID-19 in March — a woman in her thirties at Farnsworth Middle School. The entire school system was shut down and, soon after, schools across the state were closed by executive order as teachers scrambled to teach remotely. Since then, detailed plans were made, both for instruction and for handling COVID-19 cases as they arise.

“The school district continues to follow all prevention protocols in accordance with guidelines from the New York State Health Department and CDC — this includes a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all school buildings. You can find more health and safety information here in the GCSD reopening plan,” the district notice said.

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