Four new COVID-19 cases for Guilderland schools

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff
The Farnsworth Middle School Mask production of Mary Poppins Jr. played in March of 2020, just before the first wave of coronavirus shocked local schools.

GUILDERLAND — On Friday afternoon, Farnsworth Middle School announced a new COVID-19 case; on Friday evening, three more cases were announced at Guilderland High School.

All Guilderland schools, including the middle school and high school, are remaining open for in-person instruction.

This makes a total of nine confirmed cases for the district so far this school year.

On Sunday, Nov. 8, Superintendent Maries Wiles had sent an email notifying the school community that “an individual connected to both Farnsworth Middle School and Guilderland High School has tested positive for COVID-19.”

Five days later, on Nov. 13 at 2:56 p.m., Farnsworth Principal Michael Laster sent an email to Farnsworth families notifying them of the new case.

Less than four hours later, at 6:23 p.m. on Friday, Wiles emailed GCSD families that three individuals at the high school had tested positive.

While the district does not reveal if the people who have tested positive are students, staff, or teachers, citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the state’s COVID-19 Report Card, which tracks COVID-19 cases in schools across the state, noted the person who worked at both the middle and high schools and tested positive was a teacher.

The four new cases, announced Nov. 13, were not yet noted on the state tracker as of Friday evening.

Both schools are working with the Albany County Department of Health to supply contact tracing information, and both Friday emails said, “For anyone exposed, the health department will reach out and advise on the need to quarantine.”

Both emails also said, “The district continues to follow all prevention protocols in accordance with guidelines from the New York State Department of Health and CDC — this includes a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all school buildings.”

Albany County has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, as has the rest of the country, since schools opened in the fall and people have returned to more inside activities.

Last Thursday, the county’s health commissioner, Elizabeth Whalen, said that about 15 percent of the county’s COVID-19 cases in the last two months had come from students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Whalen urged parents to keep their children home when they are sick and to get them tested. At a press conference on Nov. 13, Whalen urged parents to be sure their children wear masks and not attend parties.

Besides the two COVID-19 cases this week, Guilderland previously had two at Altamont Elementary and two at Guilderland High School.

Last March, a woman in her 30s associated with Farnsworth Middle School had one of the first two cases of COVID-19 announced in Albany County. Shortly thereafter, the governor shut down all schools across New York for in-person learning.

Guilderland, like other school districts, went to remote learning. Then, for this school year, the district developed plans that allow younger students to learn  in person while older students combine remote learning with in-person learning. Some students have chosen to learn entirely from home.

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