Remsen schools shifts to fully remote instruction; Rome Catholic in midst of ‘yellow-zone testing’

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The Remsen school district has shifted to fully remote instruction for Monday and Tuesday this week due to COVID-19, while Rome Catholic School is continuing with daily in-person instruction for grades K-6 amid Rome’s yellow-zone testing requirements for the pandemic.

• Remsen — The district received notification Sunday of a positive COVID-19 staff case in the high school and an additional presumptive positive staff case in the high school, Superintendent Timothy Jenny said in a letter to parents and guardians.

The district also received several more calls Sunday, regarding students who will be required to quarantine based on family members testing positive, the letter said.

It noted “many of our students have had to be placed on a precautionary quarantine,” adding the district has had five positive COVID-19 cases within the past week and six overall since
Dec. 3.

“Out of an abundance of caution, Remsen Central School will transition to fully remote instruction for Monday, Dec. 21 and Tuesday, Dec. 22....,” the letter observed. The district begins its winter recess Wednesday.

“Please consider being extremely cautious over the course of the next two weeks to help us ensure that we may resume in-person instruction for our students on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021,” the letter added. “The actions and decisions we make as adults have a direct impact on our children and our greater community.”

The district had been on a schedule that included grades K-6 in-person every day while grades 7-12 have been in a hybrid format with in-person and remote instruction. Most other area school districts already have previously announced shifts to all-remote instruction until varying dates in January.

When asked Monday whether the Remsen district’s several recent COVID-19 cases were in relation to district testing of students and staff under yellow-zone requirements, Jenny said “Remsen is currently not in a designated testing zone and as such we are not testing.” He added “we are notified of these cases by parents or staff.” The state last week designated certain areas of Oneida County, including Rome and Utica among them, as being in a yellow zone relating to COVID-19 cases but Remsen is outside the areas.

Regarding whether the Remsen district has previously had to shift to all-remote learning during the current 2020-21 academic year, Jenny said Monday “We have been open for in-person learning all year.” He did note “we shifted one hybrid cohort in the high school to remote learning for one day back in November, due to a complex contact tracing case that we were informed of late the night before that did not give us enough time to contact students required to quarantine.”

The district has 439 students in grades K-12.

• Rome Catholic School — The 800 Cypress St. school is “in-person this week” and in the process of “completing our yellow-zone testing,” Principal Nancy Wilson said Monday.

“We anticipate successfully completing the requirement by Tuesday,” Wilson added. Under state requirements, schools in yellow zones must test 20% of in-person students, faculty and staff over the two-week period immediately following announcement of a yellow zone designation. If results show 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.

RCS has about 48 K-6 students who are attending in-person, plus about five other students who opted to learn remotely, Wilson said last week. It also has a pre-K program through the Rome school district, and the approximately 104 pre-K students changed to all-remote instruction two weeks ago in conjunction with the Rome district doing so for its students overall. The pre-K program at RCS had been in a hybrid format.

RCS on Wednesday begins its Christmas recess, which is until Jan. 4.

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