Schools close after new COVID case

Schools close after new COVID case

A case of COVID-19 at Whitehall High School has prompted a quarantine of multiple individuals who had direct contact with the person through March 14.

The high school at the moment is planning for students to return to in-person learning on March 15 while the elementary school anticipates students returning on March 8.

This is the second positive case in the district. It was announced last Sept. 28 that a student in the elementary school was diagnosed three days earlier.

School superintendent Patrick Dee released two statements on the Whitehall Central School District website on March 4 to notify the community about recent COVID cases within the elementary and high school. The first statement addressed the elementary school while the second detailed a second case within the high school.

Dee said in his second statement that “the district is working closely with Washington County Public Health Services to perform contact tracing” within the high school and found that the individual had been in direct contact with multiple individuals.

The individuals in contact will be quarantined through March 14. Families who have students at the high school have been advised to keep a close eye on any possible calls from New York State Contact Tracers in the event their child has been in contact with the individual.

Dee finished his second statement by saying “… the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy laws restrict us from disclosing or confirming any personally identifiable information. We cannot identify anyone who has tested positive.”

Lyn Parisi has two daughters in the school district and has enjoyed having her kids learning at home. When asked about how her kids like learning at home, she said they are enjoying it.

“My sixth grader loves at-home learning,” she said. “She is able to do things at her pace and can do more research than in a normal classroom setting. My fourth grader has shown no signs of difference in online learning than she did when she was in the classroom. She has made it clear, though, she prefers to be back in class. So here we have two siblings with very different personalities and preferences,” she said.

Dee in his second statement reminded the community to continue following the CDC and state coronavirus guidelines.

“Please remember that our community must continue to work together to ensure overall public health,” he said. “Following guidelines regarding masks, social gatherings and social distancing is important both inside and outside of school buildings.”

Parisi made it clear that her children are interested in returning to school, but she would like to keep them home until they are fully in the clear from possibly coming into contact with the virus. But she also mentioned she was beyond thankful for how hard the teachers are working to keep her kids up to speed.

“Our family has benefited from online learning and will continue to do so until it is absolutely safe to be in person,” she said. “I think we should really thank the teachers and staff members for their continuous dedication. Without them a lot of children would not get the education they need and deserve.”