GLENS FALLS — Glens Falls city school buildings are reopening next week, but only for kindergarten through sixth grade.
On Jan. 19, students in K-6 will return to in-person school, Superintendent Paul Jenkins announced on the school website Tuesday morning. School has been virtual since Christmas vacation ended.
Jenkins warned that the buildings will close again if the community does not take safety precautions.
“Please keep to your own home as much as possible, so we can stop the community spread of coronavirus. Do not gather. Do not socialize with neighbors. Do not travel,” he said.
If there are new coronavirus cases or increased quarantines among the elementary buildings, the district will “immediately revert to all-remote instruction,” he said. “Families should prepare now for that scenario.”
Students in grades 7-12 will continue to learn virtually until at least Feb. 1, “in hopes that staffing levels and illness containment will allow us to get back in the classroom as soon as possible,” he said.
Every building in the district closed after 18 people were sickened due to a house party at the home of a Big Cross Street Elementary School reading teacher, April McClements.
Glens Falls High School students attended the party, as well as college-age residents of Queensbury, Glens Falls and Wilton. Twelve Warren County residents were at the party and caught the virus, according to Warren County Health Services. The party was at a house in Gansevoort. The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, but officials said only 12 people were at the party, despite the fact that at least one person at the Gansevoort home hosted the party and 12 Warren County residents got sick there. One person who attended to party had the virus and exposed everyone else who attended.
The teacher whose home the party was held at went to school for the last three days before Christmas vacation, exposing students and teachers at Big Cross Street Elementary School. High school students who attended the party also went to school, exposing others. There were initial reports that athletes who had practices that week were exposed by a partygoer-athlete, but school officials now believe no current athletes attended the party. Some athletes may have had contact with one of the partygoers, outside of team activities.
Widespread quarantines were required over the holiday season because of the situation.
Jenkins said it hasn’t gotten better since then.
“The district hasn’t gone one day in January without a new positive case within our school community. Warren County has reported hundreds of new positive cases in that same time frame. Our local situation is not getting better,” he said in his announcement. “At the same time, maintaining in-person learning for the youngest and differently-abled students has been prioritized by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New York State Departments of Education and Health and our own leadership team.”
He noted that the AAP said “schools have not been a significant driver of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in their communities when they take safety precautions. Transmission has been especially low among younger children.”