At least six Capital Region school districts reported new COVID-19 cases among students or staff on Friday as public health experts continue to warn about a rise in cases across the country.
Niskayuna, Scotia-Glenville, Amsterdam, Saratoga Springs, Waterford-Halfmoon and South Colonie school districts all reported new cases Friday, primarily among students, and Niskayuna had to shift a group of eighth-graders to all virtual through Friday.
At Niskayuna’s Iroqouis Middle School, eighth-grade students on “Team Tuscarora” will learn remotely this week as a result of staffing difficulties, according to district officials.
“Team Tuscarora students are not being quarantined [other than those directly advised to do so by public health], but rather being asked to learn remotely based on staffing and supervision needs in this circumstance,” Niskayuna district officials wrote in a message posted Friday.
Niskayuna on Friday also reported learning of a Glencliff Elementary School student testing positive for COVID-19 but noted that “based on the timing of when they were last at school,” health officials said there was no need for others at the school to quarantine.
“As we have communicated this fall, if a student or staff members tests positive for COVID-19, we will work closely with the applicable county health department to identify potential contacts at the school,” district officials wrote in a second message on the website. “In this circumstance, public health services has advised at this time that there are no contacts from the school setting that warrant follow-up about quarantining.”
Niskayuna wasn’t the only district in the region sending out similar messages late last week: Sacandaga Elementary School in the Scotia-Glenville School District closed Friday as health officials conducted contact tracing for a student last in the school on Oct. 30. Health officials were investigating the potential exposure of six staff members at the school, according to a message posted on the district website last week. A separate student at Lincoln Elementary school also tested positive but had been out of school the previous week and did not cause potential exposure.
Sacandaga was set to reopen Monday morning, but students in a classroom “who may have been exposed to COVID-19” were asked to stay home, according to a district message. The parents of those students on Friday were being contacted by the school principal and county health officials. Like in Niskayuna, where staffing shortages in the wake of a new case forced limiting in-person instruction, Scotia-Glenville officials indicated the contact tracing process left some teachers at home and created staffing concerns.
“There was not sufficient staff to operate the school as normal,” according to the district’s message about closing the school on Friday.
After a student or staff members tests positive for COVID-19, school districts work with their local county health department to track possible contacts and level of exposure before contacting people who need to quarantine or get tested.
Saratoga Springs on Friday reported a Maple Avenue Middle School student had tested positive for COVID-19, but officials did not deem it necessary to close the school or otherwise alter operations. South Colonie on Friday reported two new cases associated with Saddlewood Elementary School.
The Greater Amsterdam School District reported one new case on Friday, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, but the district did not release more information about the case on its website or social media pages.
The new cases come as the latest surge of infections lifts positive test rates across the Capital Region and the state. Albany County reported over 80 new cases on Friday, while Saratoga and Schenectady counties both reported over a dozen new cases.
The new school-based cases, about 20 across three dozen Capital Region districts in the past week, represent the latest of 85 school-based cases so far this school year.