Canisteo-Greenwood Superintendent: Why There Is An Increase In Covid

September 20, 2021

CANISTEO, NY – Statement From Canisteo-Greenwood Superintendent Tom Crook:

I just wanted to send out an update regarding the recent cases here at CG. I know many are asking “what is going on”? That is a question that has ringing through my head at the end of last week and all weekend. Here are a few things that I feel would be important to bring to light. I am sure there are more, but these are the main ones.
1. Last fall, we did not have many outside activities that the students were participating in. We were coming into the school year after being off since March 16, 2020. People were excited to be returning to in-person learning even though there were going to be guidelines (masking, distancing, etc.) Because of “higher risk” sports being cancelled, most kids went home and did not hang out with each other. Some did, but we still didn’t know too much about what covid was going to look like getting our kids back together in school. This year, the students (thankfully) can participate in the things they love to do with no outside restrictions.
2. Last fall, the district did not have the capability of doing its own testing. We didn’t for the entire year for that matter. The access to on-the-spot testing has assisted us in catching more covid cases. We are only testing staff and students that are symptomatic and are not doing any “screen testing”. Our positive tests have only come from individuals displaying symptoms and if the parents have asked to test the siblings. We feel it is the right thing to do when a parent requests to have the siblings tested.
a. Please, if your child is symptomatic, we ask that you keep them home. You may call the school to schedule a rapid test, or you can take them to your primary health care physician. Every positive test, except one, the individuals had clear symptoms.
3. The delta variant is more contagious than the original strand. Many of our cases are coming from households where if one person gets covid, most in the home do as well. I asked if they were seeing this across the county and they said “yes”.
These are just a few outliers that I have been contemplating and I am not trying to make excuses. Things are different than they were last school year that need to be a part of our conversations and thinking. Rest assured; the district is doing everything we can to protect all who enter our doors. We are abiding by all the regulations (acknowledging that they are stricter) and go above and beyond when we can. Just an example, last Friday Mrs. Brownell spent hours distancing in the cafeteria so that our students are now eating at 6 feet rather than the recommended 3 feet. Another example is changing our air turnover rate from 4 times per hour to 8 times per hour in the classrooms. We have also continued to use our thermal cameras which tagged a feverish student last week that ended up positive after being tested.
When asking “what is going on” at the school, please know that everything we know to do is being done to stop any potential spread and we are relying on the experts to provide us the proper mitigation strategies. The frustrating part is not really knowing whether there was a transmission in school or outside of the school system. In many cases, we may never know that answer but what I do know is that school is the only place right now that has mitigation strategies mandated by the NYS Department of Health. Our students and staff are more protected here than anywhere else.
I will continue to assess our situation and keep our student’s and staff’s health in the forefront of my decisions. If there is ever a time you have any questions or concerns, I ask that you reach out to me to have that conversation.
Yours in service,
Tom