School districts offer vaccination, testing updates; South Lewis resumes hybrid instruction

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COVID-19 vaccination updates for Rome and Remsen, COVID-19 voluntary testing dates for Oriskany, and a return to some in-person instruction Monday for South Lewis were among new school district announcements relating to the pandemic.

 Rome — While teachers are among those in the group 1B category who now have been cleared to begin receiving the vaccine, “the process for conducting vaccinations is extremely confusing,” district Superintendent Peter C. Blake said Sunday in his online blog.

“There will most likely be many options and it’s most important to know that there may not be enough doses of vaccine for everyone that desires the vaccine,” Blake commented. “It is anticipated that towards the middle/end of the week, details will be available for how school employees can register to receive the vaccine through either the hospital or the school district.” The district will be working with the Oneida County Department of Health this week “to see if we can offer vaccination clinics in our facilities,” Blake added. The district’s general education instructional schedule has been all-remote since Dec. 7, and it anticipates returning to a hybrid format of in-person and remote instruction on Jan. 25.

Remsen — The district listed online links for the county health department and for local hospitals, regarding education workers and other eligible groups scheduling appointments to receive the vaccine.

“The vaccine is in limited supply. If the schedule is booked, check back later,” according to the district. “More appointments will open up as additional vaccines are available. The governor estimates it will take 14 weeks to vaccinate those in phase 1B due to the limited vaccine supply.”

The district last week returned from the holiday break with students resuming an education schedule that includes grades K-6 fully in-person while grades 7-12 are in a hybrid format.

• Oriskany — Dates for students to be voluntarily tested for COVID-19, in conjunction with requirements based on the district being in a state-designated yellow zone for the pandemic, will be Jan. 20 and Jan. 27, according to district announcements. The requirements call for 20% of in-person students and staff to be tested over a two-week period, and if a school positivity rate is below the regional rate then the school can remain open; based on that percentage, at least 61 elementary students and at least 53 jr./sr. high school students need to submit to the testing, district officials said. The district has been on a fully remote learning schedule since Dec. 7, but is planning to resume a hybrid schedule on Jan. 19.

In a separate announcement, Superintendent Timothy Gaffney said the district learned Saturday that an employee connected to the district tested positive for COVID-19. No students or family members have been impacted by the case, he added.

South Lewis — The Turin-based district on Monday resumed a hybrid instruction schedule, after closing schools to in-person instruction in mid-December.

“While COVID-19 remains a real and daily concern, we have learned over the past several months that schools have not been a location of significant spread,” Superintendent Douglas Premo said Thursday in a letter to the school community. While the district has had several students and staff recently test positive for COVID-19 during the school closure period, he noted, “schools have proven to be relatively safe places due to the many protective measures and protocols that have been established and followed....” He added “we also strongly believe that the best learning environment is in-person instruction.”

Premo also pointed out that situations and circumstances can change rapidly, and the district will be monitoring COVID-19 closely in the community.

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