Sunday sees several school closures, cancellations from COVID-19

More than a dozen schools in Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties cancel classes
A state of emergency has been declared in Niskayuna. The Niskayuna Town Hall, pictured, will be closed to the public this week.
A state of emergency has been declared in Niskayuna. The Niskayuna Town Hall, pictured, will be closed to the public this week.

Sunday saw municipalities all across the Capital Region declaring states of emergencies and an uptick of local organizations announcing a dedication of resources amidst a continued increase of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York State.

There were, as of Sunday, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo during an afternoon press conference, 729 confirmed cases in the state. 

Of those 729, 137 were hospitalized, 65 were in the ICU and 46 patients were intubated. He also indicated more than 5,200 tests have been administered. The 729 total marked a 69-case increase from the day before. There had been, as of Sunday, three deaths in the state due to the virus.

The three who died all had underlying medical conditions.

Sunday also saw cascading declarations of emergencies locally. 

Schenectady County declared a state of emergency on Sunday afternoon today to “preserve the public safety and to render all appropriate assistance to the safety, well-being, and health of the residents of the county,” according to a press release.

“The County declared a state of emergency mainly to make sure any of our schools that close due to the COVID-19 virus are taken care of,” said Anthony Jasenski, chair of the Schenectady County Legislature. “Without this declaration they may be financially penalized for not meeting the minimum instructional days requirement.” 

Saratoga County on Sunday afternoon announced that there had been another confirmed case of coronavirus in Clifton Park, bringing the county total up to four. 

“Offices of the Saratoga County government will be reducing staff to essential personnel only for one week beginning Monday, March 16, 2020,” read a Sunday press release. “All county office spaces have been cleaned and employees are being reminded to practice social distancing and contribute to the cleaning and disinfection of their work spaces. Beginning Monday, all Saratoga County DMV offices will be by appointment only.  The County Clerk’s Office is also suspending passport services and public searching.”

The Town of Amsterdam followed suit on Sunday in declaring a state of emergency until March 31, with the town office building closing down to the general public. Only essential personnel, a press release read, will report to work.

A state of emergency was also declared for Montgomery County on Sunday.

It was announced Sunday that the New York State Museum, State Library and State Archives have been closed temporarily.

Capital District YMCA membership facilities will be closing for one week, beginning Monday, March 16, it was announced. School-age care has been suspended, but Early Learning Centers will remain open.

More school closures

School districts also reported new closures on Sunday. 

Through Hamilton Fulton and Montgomery BOCES, over a dozen school districts announced that their classes would be cancelled in the region effective Monday, March 16, through Tuesday, March 31. Those school districts include Amsterdam, Broadalbin-Perth, Canajoharie, Edinburg, Fonda-Fultonville, Fort Plain, Gloversville, Johnstown, Lake Pleasant, Mayfield, Northville, Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville, Piseco, Wells and Wheelerville.

With the mass closures of community spaces, including libraries and schools that many local residents rely on for services, safeguards in the form of grants and non-profit lead activities began to take form on Sunday to at least help to provide temporary services.

Led by the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and the United Way of the Greater Capital Region, The Capital Region Community COVID-19 Response Fund has been established to provide resources to 501c3 organizations working with local communities who are disproportionately impacted by coronavirus.

One-time operating grants will help fund frontline human services organizations. The first phase of rapid-response grants will help meet basic needs and help increase resiliency in affected communities. An initial round of grants is expected to be allocated within the next few weeks. The organization estimated that multiple phases of funding would be necessary to help support community organizations throughout the outbreak.

State of emergency in Niskayuna

Late Sunday afternoon, Niskayuna Town Supervisor Yasmine Syed also signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in the town.

Citing multiple confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Capital Region communities, Syed declared a state of emergency within the limits of the town. The state of emergency went into effect Sunday at 5 p.m.

“This state of emergency shall remain in effect for 30 days or until rescinded at my direction or by a subsequent order,” read the proclamation. 

Syed also directed that Edwin D. Reilly Jr. Niskayuna Town Hall close to the general public for the coming week. The Niskayuna Police Department will remain open to the public.

Syed also directed town board, committee and council meetings be closed to the general public for the week.

Niskayuna Town Court will be closed Monday and Wednesday.

An emergency special meeting of the Town Board will be held Monday at noon to adopt a paid sick leave policy for town employees, as well as measures to safeguard the town, its residents, and employees from the impact of the virus and provide for a proactive response to counter its spread.

The meeting will be recorded and posted on the town website.

“It’s consistent with the County of Schenectady, so we’re following suit,” Syed said of the directives. “What we’re focused on really right now is preventing the spread of the virus and the best way to do that really is through self-distancing tactics, urging people to stay home, to avoid Town Hall, utilize online services, call us on the phone, use email, use mail, really just to keep everybody safely in their own spaces so we’re not interacting.”

Town employees will be on the job Monday.

“We still want to be available for our residents,” Syed said.

Discussions regarding essential and non-essential staff, staggering work hours, possible work-from-home scenarios and talks with department heads will be conducted Monday.

Daily Gazette staff writer Jeff Wilkin contributed to this story.

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