December 7, 2020
CANISTEO, NY – From CG Superintendent Tom Crook:
The contact tracing is complete for our case this morning and our affected families have been notified. If you did not hear directly from Mrs. Brownell this morning, your child has not been affected by the positive case and is safe to return. The Elementary School will be open tomorrow, Tuesday, December 8th.
As you have seen over the past few days, CG has seen a minor uptick in cases (2). We will be keeping a very close eye on our individuals that are out with symptoms and awaiting either an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID test. With our positive case this morning, we are at 10 positive cases since school started September 8th. If we begin to see a notable increase in cases, and we feel school is not a safe place to be, we may start discussions to go 100% remote up to the Christmas Break.
This week will show us the true fallout from Thanksgiving if there is going to be one as projected. I believe through our masking, distancing, and sanitizing efforts we have done an excellent job of stopping the spread of the virus when we have had positive cases. To date, we have yet to see a positive case from any of our quarantined individuals that we designated as a school contact in the elementary school (and yes, I knocked on wood). In the high school, we suspect that there may have been one transference that occurred in school (our very first cases), but there is no way to verify that suspicion.
This just goes to show that our efforts are making a difference and school is a safe place to be. Our school is healthy and our COVID plan is working. Contact Tracing: I know that this morning’s call threw everyone for a loop, including me. I apologize for the late notice and any hardships that it may has caused. The reason I had to close the elementary school is our contact tracing takes time. We must contact the positive individual and have a conversation with him/her regarding where they were and who they were around for the 3-day investigation window. We then must look at cameras and follow the employee around to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. If the employee is a teacher or aide in a classroom, the entire class will be quarantined. The county has a sheet that we must fill out with the contact’s name, telephone number, address, and if they are a student, the parents’ names. And then we begin making the phone calls to the families.
The process takes on average 3-4 hours depending on how many people we have working on it and the number of contacts. If we were to have the students show up this morning and they ended up being a contact, we would have had to send them home after being here for a few hours and disrupt our families even more. It is not ideal to cancel school at 6:45 am, but it is the right thing to do for all our families and employees. With our latest 2 cases, we have 62 students and 9 adults quarantined.
The teachers are quarantined with their students; therefore, they will be able to teach remotely during the quarantined time with their students. Currently, we do not feel it is necessary to close the entire school or district for 2 cases. As stated above, we will keep a very close eye on our individuals out with symptoms and if we feel it is getting to the point where it is not safe to have school open, we will go 100% remote. Quarantining keeps everyone safe from a potential spread and it has proven to work for us thus far. None of what we are dealing with COVID is ideal, but we are doing the best we can to keep our schools open and a safe place to be. Quarantining 71 individuals in less than 24 hours is not ideal and causes many hardships, and for this, I apologize.
Through our investigations of the 10 positive cases, we have encountered since September, I feel (as well as the County Health Director) that Canisteo-Greenwood is as safe as it can be with this virus. If there ever comes a time where I do not feel that way, I will do what is necessary to protect our children and staff. Yours in service, Thomas J. Crook Superintendent