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Beekmantown Central School District moves online after reported COVID cases

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 5:47 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2020 at 7:21 PM EDT
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BEEKMANTOWN, N.Y. (WCAX) - A second-grader at the Beekmantown Elementary School tested positive for the coronavirus and a teacher within the district is a suspected case. The school says the cases are linked. That drove the entire district to move to remote learning.

The district tells me that they did everything right. They mandated masks, they kept their distance but COVID-19 still made it inside the school. So now the entire district of 1,500 kids have been moved online to prevent any potential surges of cases.

One family I spoke with said that is overkill.

The James family has filled their kitchen table with school-administered Chromebooks to start their second week of school.

“I knew that it would close down eventually but I didn’t know we would only go in for five days,” said Alicen James, a seventh-grader at Beekmantown Middle School.

The James kids-- Alicen, fifth-grader Adalynn and pre-K student Asher-- were excited to finally be back to in-person learning but they are prepared to learn online after last year.

“I miss my school,” Asher said.

Mom to the three, Bambi, says she has the ability to work from home when needed, so the last-minute switch wasn’t hard on their family but she imagines that’s not the case for everyone.

“It’s a lot of strain on the parents at this point considering everything is back open and they don’t have the ability to stay home,” she said.

The James family thinks making all 1,500 students stay remote for two full weeks isn’t necessary and they could have isolated the cases, sanitized the school and brought back the majority of students and staff like they saw at another family member’s school with a positive case.

“The reality is the rules change all the time with COVID,” Beekmantown Schools Superintendent Dan Mannix said.

The school district says that it doesn’t think the student got the virus from being in school.

The school was notified of the positive case on Sunday and immediately informed parents.

“We want to make sure that everybody knows that we are not hiding anything, we have nothing to hide and our number one goal is to keep everyone safe,” Mannix said.

The district said they wanted to take extra precautions because this was the first case that it knows of to surface at a school in the county.

“Just be assured that our plan worked and this is the opportunity to take a look,” Mannix said.

He says the school took COVID guidelines set forth by the state very seriously, so if an outbreak were to occur from the cases that were in classrooms, he says there may be something wrong with the guidelines.

“If this thing becomes a major spreading event, then we need to take a real hard look at what we are doing and take a real hard look at the guidance and if it works,” Mannix said.

Alicen, Adalynn and Asher say they feel safe going back to school on Oct. 5 when the district is expected to return to class.

Beekmantown Central School District is working with the Clinton County Health Department on contact tracing but they do ask parents to inform their respective principals if their students were to test positive.

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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