SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs High School was back to in-person classroom instruction Monday, after a cluster of COVID infections among its students led the school to go all-remote Friday.
A total of 23 new student infections were reported April 12-18, bringing the cumulative tally to 107 students and 12 teachers and staff since September. The school closed Friday to facilitate contact tracing by county officials.
District spokeswoman Maura Manny said Monday the situation has improved — new student infections are still being reported, but much fewer than last week.
An unconfirmed report suggested that at least some of the recently infected Saratoga High students contracted COVID during a house party in Lake George in neighboring Warren County.
Don Lehman, a spokesman for Warren County government, said Monday that Warren County Public Health was notified by Saratoga County Public Health Services in the middle of last week that a gathering of young people appeared to have occurred in the Lake George area, and that numerous attendees subsequently became ill with COVID-19.
However, no Warren County residents have been reported infected as a result of the event, so Warren County officials have not been investigating the matter, Lehman said — Saratoga County is doing the investigation and handling the contact tracing. Warren County hasn’t even been informed of the location of the gathering, he added.
A Saratoga County spokesman did not return an email seeking comment.
Manny said the school district didn’t know about the circumstances of the students’ infections, and wouldn’t, as the county doesn’t share that information with it.
The situation is a bit of an ironic turnaround.
In December, an underage drinking party in Saratoga County left a dozen young Warren County residents infected with COVID, and the two counties appeared to have trouble coordinating their investigation and response.
High school students as young as 16 became eligible for vaccination in New York on April 6. With more than half the adult population at least partly vaccinated, and with increased supply of vaccine available, efforts have begun to turn toward vaccinating high schoolers.
Saratoga County Public Health Services on Thursday will hold a COVID-19 vaccination clinic reserved for high school students who live or attend school in Saratoga County. The event is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 6012 County Farm Road in Ballston Spa. Registration is through https://apps2.health.ny.gov/doh2/applinks/cdmspr/2/dates. Dozens of appointments were still available Monday evening.
The event will use the Pfizer vaccine, which is authorized for 16- and 17-year-olds. The Moderna vaccine is authorized only for those 18 and older.
This has been a problem for Schenectady County, which lately has had very little access to Pfizer vaccine. It does have Moderna doses, however, and will hold a vaccination clinic for ages 18 and up from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at SUNY Schenectady County.
For the first time ever at a Schenectady County Public Health Services event, appointments are encouraged but not required. The county opened the clinic to walk-ins Monday afternoon because there hadn’t been sufficient demand to fill appointments for all available doses.
It’s a notable development, because Schenectady County has one of the most effective vaccination records in the state: 49.6% of the population has had at least one shot, the third-highest percentage among the state’s 62 counties.
That’s 77,030 as of Monday morning out of 155,350 total residents.
At some point, the county will begin to run up against another yet-unknown statistic: The percentage of residents who will refuse to be vaccinated. Recent surveys indicate roughly 1 in 4 Americans may fall into this category.
Vaccinating high schoolers will help Schenectady County increase the overall percentage.
Saratoga County is not far behind Schenectady County: 48.2% of the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.