An overwhelming sense of “not if, but when” was felt in Granville Central School District superintendent Thomas McGurl’s voice as the Board of Education discussed protocol regarding COVID-19 at its meeting Tuesday.
“We have been very lucky so far,” said McGurl as he knocked multiple times on the wooden table, referencing the fact that Granville schools have not had a confirmed positive COVID-19 test yet.
The key word is “yet.”
“That’s (the luck) probably going to change,” McGurl said. “If you have not seen the news, they have changed the way we report to the state. Prior to this change, if we had a student that was displaying symptoms, they would be sent home, they would have to get a COVID test or a doctor’s note saying they had a pre-existing condition, they don’t come back to school until 10 days or until we get one of those things,” McGurl said.
The new rule is what’s called a ‘presumed positive.’ So now, if that same student were sent out and we don’t get their test results back within 48 hours’ time… we have to count them as positive, which means that we have to notify the county, which means the county will begin contact tracing, which means people will be put in quarantine.”
McGurl’s biggest issue with this is that the receipt of test results have typically taken longer than 48 hours. About 48 hours after testing, contact tracing begins and results don’t appear until anywhere from an additional 48 to 72 hours.
“As much as I do on a personal level disagree with the ‘presumed positive,’ I understand the science behind it,” McGurl said. “If you’re reporting ‘presumed positives’ people out in the community can look at that and say, ‘you got 10 cases in your high school, that’s a really serious problem’, where it might be you have 10 cases are out right now, we just haven’t gotten the test results back.”
McGurl also spoke on Section II inquiring if schools are interested in participating in winter sports. The superintendent said “high risk sports” such as basketball, cheerleading and wrestling are still unable to be played, and that the Nov. 16 target date is looking “pretty unlikely.”
“As of right now, high risk sports are not allowed,” McGurl said. “My opinion is we should be pushing this date back until January. See where we’re at in January and if we can salvage part of the season, great. If we can’t, that’s the way it is.”
McGurl along with high school principal Lisa Meade, Granville Elementary School principal Cara Talmadge and Mary J, Tanner School principal Paul Marcone all acknowledged and gave thanks to the faculty and staff in the school district for working extremely hard to make this situation as less tedious as possible.
McGurl ended the meeting with his concluding thoughts of having a “Russian roulette” feeling towards the constantly changing guidelines and uncertainty of what the next day brings.
“Every day has a new set of problems that we never considered and it’s figuring out a solution for them and keeping this thing moving forward,” McGurl said. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, a plan for this, a plan for that, so that we’re ready to roll and that we don’t lose time when the inevitable happens.”