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Rising COVID cases send some North Country schools back online

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 5:06 PM EST
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MALONE, N.Y. (WCAX) - A rise in COVID cases in Northern New York is closing schools. All seven school districts in Franklin County, New York, will return to remote learning.

Starting this Thursday, the Malone Central School District will move to an entire remote model instead of the hybrid model they’ve had since the start of the school year.

Superintendent Jerry Griffin says he would rather do too much than too little.

“How can we contribute to limiting community spread? And that’s why we did this,” Griffin said.

Griffin says it’s the call all districts have been preparing for-- school to shut down and kids to go back to online, at-home learning.

“I don’t know if we are ever really prepared but we were more prepared than we were in March,” Griffin said.

The request to close down all districts in the county came from the Franklin County Health Department after seeing a consistent spike in positive COVID-19 cases.

“Really we haven’t seen cases like this since the start of the pandemic,” said Erin Streiff of the Franklin County Health Department.

The Health Department says the county numbers were climbing toward the “yellow zone,” a New York state designation that would put limited restrictions back on the counties.

“It was asked that school districts consider this, not because the cases are in schools per se, but because shutting down schools is going to decrease other methods of community spread that we have been observing,” Streiff said.

The school districts decided to keep the remote learning until at least January to avoid additional spikes caused by holiday gatherings.

“That is the primary method of transmission we are seeing in the county is people from different households gathering and not wearing their masks and not staying 6 feet apart,” Streiff said.

School officials say having kids in class is a high priority, right after the health and safety of the students, the staff and the community.

“Five, ten years from now I don’t want anyone to look back and say, ‘Well, they should have done more’ or ‘They could have done more and they didn’t.’ I’d rather them look back and say, ‘You did overreact and we didn’t need to do this.’ I’ll take that,” Griffin said.

All of the school districts will have the option of going back to in-person Jan. 4, right after the holidays.

Related Story:

Franklin County New York schools to move to remote learning

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