Franklin County schools will go full remote through Jan. 4

Students in grades 7 through 12 arrive at Saranac Lake High School for the first day of classes Sept. 8. (News photo — Amy Scattergood)

All schools in Franklin County are shifting to remote learning until at least Jan. 4.

The huge news was announced by the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES on Monday evening. The shift came at the recommendation of county health officials in light of the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in this county.

The Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake central school districts, as well as the BOCES’ Adirondack Educational Center in Saranac Lake, are shifting to remote learning this coming Monday, Nov. 16 as a precautionary measure, according to a news release from BOCES. The school districts will prepare for the shift this week.

Four school districts in the northern end of the county, where there is the highest rate of infection, are moving to remote learning this week. Students at the Brushton-Moira, St. Regis Falls, Salmon River and Malone Central school districts will be in school in person Tuesday, then have Wednesday off for the Veterans Day holiday before starting remote learning on Thursday.

Chateaugay Central School District students are already learning remotely because a positive case was recently identified within the school community, and the district will stay remote until at least Jan. 4.

“We ask community members to join us in doing everything they can to stop the COVID spread,” Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES District Superintendent Dale Breault said in a statement. “I know the pandemic has been a long, hard road already, but we hope everyone will help us get our kids back to school where they belong.”

The Long Lake and Lake Placid central school districts, though they fall within the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES system, are outside Franklin County and unaffected by the closures announced by BOCES on Monday. They will continue with in-person learning.

Any parent who needs help finding day care options can email childcare@fehb.org or call 518-483-6420, ext. 9.

Few cases seen in local schools

A student in the AuSable Valley Central School District tested positive for COVID-19 last week. The student has been learning remotely throughout the entire school year, according to a public notice from Superintendent Paul Savage.

The student was isolated in accordance with public health guidelines, and there are no changes to the school’s operations because of the positive, according to Savage.

The number of students and teachers in Essex and Franklin counties who have tested positive for COVID-19 remains low.

The state’s COVID-19 Report Card — a database with COVID-19 statistics reported by public and private school districts, colleges and universities — shows that as of last week, within Essex and Franklin counties, five students have tested positive for COVID-19 since September, four of them within the last two weeks. One staff member has tested positive within the last two weeks, and one college student is in isolation on campus but hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19.

An additional case not yet reported in the state’s database was reported by Chateaugay Central School on Saturday. The case prompted the district to move to fully remote learning starting yesterday. The Malone Central School District reported on Thursday that they had been notified that someone with a confirmed positive case had been on campus, and the Malone Middle School was moved to remote learning on Nov. 6.

Within the Tri-Lakes area, there are zero reported cases of COVID-19 among students and teachers, but one staff member at Mountain Lake Academy in Lake Placid has tested positive within the last two weeks, according to the state’s database. A student at Paul Smith’s College is in isolation on campus.

Essex County’s Ticonderoga and Minerva central school districts have reported one case each within the last two weeks, according to the state database. Both cases were found in students. Crown Point Central School District has seen at least one student test positive since September, but not recently.

In Franklin County, a student at St. Regis Mohawk School has tested positive within the last two weeks, according to the state database.

All other Essex and Franklin County public and private schools and colleges have not reported cases of COVID-19 among its students or staff since September. The Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake central school districts have reported zero positive cases. Northwood School, North Country School and St. Agnes School in Lake Placid, Adirondack Christian Academy in Wilmington, St. Bernard’s School and Northern Lights Academy in Saranac Lake have reported zero cases.

New website announced

The New York State United Teachers union on Monday unveiled a new website to track coronavirus-related health and safety concerns reported by school staff, parents and members of the community in school districts around the state.

“A consistent flow of information about the safety of our schools is critical for educators, students and families, and this website is designed to help us all stay vigilant as the school year rolls on,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Though we know some districts are working closely with their staffs to put health and safety first, problems still exist around the state. By empowering educators and community members to report their concerns, it’s our hope that we can elevate the voices of those who otherwise may go unheard.”

The website can be seen at www.nysutcovidtracker.org. No safety reports had been filed for local school districts as of Monday.