Four football games canceled this weekend could be just the start of changes at local schools as the number of COVID-19 climbs across the region.
A Thursday night clash between Sandy Creek and Beaver River was called off, then Friday night’s games between Potsdam and St. Lawrence and between Ogdensburg and Massena were called off. A game today between Canton and Malone has also been called off.
“In our conversations with public health, the big question we all ask ourselves is, ‘when are we going to start stabilizing? The answer at this point is not yet, ”said St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Superintendent Thomas R. Burns.
COVID cases are increasing in schools in the north of the country.
“We are now at record levels,” said Mr. Burns. “We are higher than in January 2021.”
The quarantine list for those linked to the school exceeded 900 in the last days of September, he said. In the last school year, that list never exceeded 800 people.
“To my knowledge, we continue to increase,” said Mr. Burns.
Parishville-Hopkinton is currently the only school in St. Lawrence County to transition to fully distance learning, Burns said. Decisions on distance learning are made at the district level, he said.
On the New York State Public School COVID-19 dashboard, Parishville-Hopkinton has 13 total positive cases.
Positive cases among students are unlikely to be the cause of the closures this school year, Burns said. A more important factor will be cases among staff and faculty.
In Ogdensburg, there are 61 positive cases – 29 in junior and senior high schools and 27 in Kennedy Elementary. Madill Elementary has five cases.
The neighboring Lisbon Central School has no case.
All schools follow the same testing protocols, Burns said.
Other school districts with a high number of positive cases include Massena Central with 33, Madrid-Waddington Central with 31, Gouverneur Central with 36 and Norwood-Norfolk Central and Potsdam Central with 23 each.
Clifton-Fine and Harrisville report no positive cases.
In Jefferson County, schools in Watertown are reporting 83 positive cases. Carthage has 42 and Indian River has 41.
Mr Burns said schools will take more than the number of positive cases into account when it comes to switching to distance learning.
Schools offer much more than education, he added. Schools provide food, a warm place in the winter, and the safety of many students.
“The best place for these children is at school,” he said.