50-60 families in Albion have moved children to remote learning after some positive Covid cases among students

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 November 2020 at 8:43 am

School district looks to offer more in-person learning at lower grade levels if Covid numbers don’t spike

ALBION – The school district has seen an increase in students doing remote learning since the start of the school year because some families were concerned after nine students have tested positive for Covid-19.

Those cases included eight who were doing hybrid classes at the district, with two days in person and three days remotely. Another student taking remote classes also tested positive.

The students didn’t contract Covid at school, said Scott Bischoping, the district’s interim superintendent.

Paul Pettit, the public health director for Orleans and Genesee counties, said local school districts have done a great job minimizing the spread of Covid. Pettit said all cases of students getting Covid have happened outside of school, typically at a family gathering.

Bischoping, speaking at Monday’s Board of Education meeting, said the student cases prompted about 50-60 families to take their children out of the hybrid model to remote only. In the elementary and middle schools, 30 percent of the students are now taking classes fully remote, while 37 percent of high school students are remote only.

The first student case was announced on Sept. 22. The nine cases include 3 in the middle school, 2 in high school and 4 in elementary school. No teachers have tested positive for Covid at Albion.

The district also hears from parents they would like to have more days of in-person education. Ryan Woolston on Monday submitted a written request for the district to offer more in-person education.

He said the remote education doesn’t work for many students and their families, who need to find childcare and turn to tutors to help their kids.

Woolston said he worries about the emotional impact on students who are forced to learn from home.

Bischoping said the district is looking to add more in-person days in late November as long as the Covid-19 cases don’t spike in the community. The numbers have been trending up in recent weeks.

School administrators and teachers are working on a plan for bringing back more students for more days each week. Bischoping said the district’s first focus will be offering more in-person days at Prekindergarten, kindergarten and grades 1 and 2.

The district will be in contact with families in the lower grade levels if Albion can bring students back for more in-person days.

“We’ll work with teachers to determine how to do it safely,” Bischoping said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting. “We will develop plans later this month. If the positivity rate settles, we’ll try to offer and give parents the option for more days.”

District waiting for news from state about winter sports

The board and superintendent also discussed the winter sports schedule. The state has set Nov. 30 as the start of practice for winter sports, but Bischoping said the state hasn’t said what sports will be allowed for winter.

Bischoping said some regions have already had swimming this fall so he expects that will happen this winter for Albion athletes. There is a chance the meets could be held at multiple locations instead of one school. Each school would use their own pool and the times would be compared with officials at each pool while the meets are run concurrently, Bischoping said.

The state hasn’t released any guidelines on how basketball and wrestling will happen in a pandemic. Those are close-contact sports.

“I think nobody wants to deliver the bad news, that’s my sense anyway,” Bischoping said. “We are waiting somewhat impatiently, because the coaches want to know, the kids want to know and we want to know.”

Kathy Harling, the Board president, said she is impressed by the fall athletes, who have been wearing masks on the soccer field and even in long-distance cross country races.

“I’m incredibly proud of our students and especially our student athletes,” Harling said. “If you watch a game our athletes keep those masks on 90 percent of the time. They may be the only ones on the field with their masks on. They have been phenomenal about it. Even cross country, imagine running with a mask, but you see pictures of them wearing their masks but everybody around them may not be wearing them so I’m extremely proud of them.”

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