RCS eyes logistics of remaining in-person amid ‘Yellow Zone’ designation

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Rome Catholic School is continuing with in-person instruction five days a week for its grade K-6 students, while its pre-K program which is through the Rome school district has shifted to all-remote instruction amid COVID-19.

Having K-6 in-person is a “day-by-day decision” based on considerations including information from the county on the COVID-19 situation, RCS Principal Nancy Wilson said Monday.

Regarding Rome being among areas of the county newly designated as a “Yellow Zone” by the state relating to the pandemic, Wilson said Tuesday she was checking the logistics relating to such factors as requirements for testing for COVID-19. She cited “a process involved,” and said she would have more information forthcoming.

According to state requirements, schools in yellow zones must test 20% of in-person students, faculty and staff over the two-week period immediately following the announcement of a yellow zone designation. If results indicate the positivity rate among the 20% of those tested is lower than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, testing at a school would no longer be required to continue. But if results over the first two weeks show a positivity rate higher than the yellow zone’s current 7-day positivity rate, a school is required to continue to test 20% of the in-person population on a bi-weekly basis.

RCS, at 800 Cypress St., has about 48 K-6 students who are attending in-person, while about five other students have opted to learn remotely, Wilson said. Its other enrollment of about 104 pre-K students, who had been in a hybrid format combining in-person and remote instruction, changed to all-remote on Monday last week in conjunction with a Rome school district announcement for all of its general education students.

For K-6 at RCS, “we’ve been able to keep our cohorts strict” regarding student groups which has “helped us stay in-person,” observed Wilson. She explained students from a given grade at school have been only with students from that grade, and students from different grades have not mixed. She also had said in September at the start of the 2020-21 academic year that for RCS it was a “luxury” to have an enrollment and building size that allowed a full-in person opening for grades K-6, so that the guidelines were feasible.

Wilson said she will seek to continue with K-6 in-person as long as it is possible to do so safely. She observed she wants “everyone as safe and healthy as long as possible” plus she is also striving to maintain in-person education which is better for students, adding the situation involves walking “a fine line.”

Wilson additionally said “things change all the time,” in relation to impacts from the pandemic.

RCS had closed in mid-March because of COVID-19, with remote instructional efforts continuing to the end of the 2019-20 academic year in June. It began the current 2020-21 academic year in mid-September with K-6 in-person, while pre-K paralleled the Rome school district’s schedule by starting 2020-21 all-remote and then shifting to a hybrid schedule on Oct. 26 before going back to all-remote last week.

RCS is a private, tuition-funded school that provides education based in Roman Catholicism. It is within the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.

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