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Lake Placid Elementary students sent home after student tests positive for COVID-19

Lake Placid Elementary School students wait to enter the building on their first day of school Tuesday, Sept. 8. (News photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

SARANAC LAKE — Instead of returning to class Thursday, students at the Saranac Lake Central School District will continue to learn remotely for a little longer, Superintendent Diane Fox announced in a robocall to parents Wednesday.

Also, Lake Placid Elementary School students were released from school early on Wednesday after it was discovered that an elementary school student had tested positive for COVID-19, Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Roger Catania announced in an email to families.

Both districts will both stay completely remote through the end of the week at least.

Saranac Lake

In Saranac Lake, students in kindergarten through sixth grade may return to in-person learning four days a week on Monday, but students in seventh through 12th grades will remain fully remote through the holiday break, according to Fox.

“Staffing shortages in multiple areas and at multiple levels leave us unable to meet our transportation and cohort requirements,” Fox said in the robocall. “Thank you for bearing with us as we work our way through this uncharted territory.”

Fox alerted families to a new positive case at the school district, specifically at Petrova Elementary School, on Tuesday. The staff member had been working at the school on Monday and later learned of the positive result.

“Franklin County Public Health is investigating the situation, conducting contact tracing, and issuing isolation and quarantine orders as needed,” Fox wrote on the school’s social media. “If you or your child are identified as a contact of the infected person, you will be contacted directly by Franklin County Public Health or Essex County Public Health, depending on your home location.

“The health department is overwhelmed by the number of current cases, causing contract tracing to take longer than normal in some instances,” she added. “The district submitted 18 names as potential contacts. Building administration reached out to each person on the possible contact list the district submitted to the health department to let them know of the situation and to ensure they took appropriate measures to protect others.

“I know you would like me to be more specific, but I cannot share identifying information. But I can share that all affected staff and students have been contacted at this point.”

Lake Placid

Lake Placid school administrators have not announced a specific date when students may be able to return to school in person. They plan to discuss when that might be at the end of the week.

Administrators learned Wednesday that an elementary school student had tested positive.

“The good news is that the student is asymptomatic, that close contact is limited to one cohort, and that the student has not attended school since last week,” Catania wrote in a social media post. “However, we recognize the need to act with additional caution at this time.”

“Given the time that it will likely take to complete contact tracing, LPES will remain on remote instruction through Friday. Essex County Public Health will be contacting all individuals directly who have had contact with the positive individual,” Catania wrote. “While we will be looking to resume in-person instruction as soon as it is safe to do so, we will not know the actual impact of this situation on others until Essex County Health is done with its work. We understand that this will cause disruption for families.

“While there are no additional details that we can share at the present time, please be assured that Essex County’s contact tracing is very thorough and all affected individuals will be directly notified. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause. We don’t make these decisions lightly but with student safety as a priority. We will be providing updates as they become available.”

A positive case was discovered at the middle-high school earlier this week. The Essex County Health Department identified at least 18 close contacts of that person and issued those people quarantine orders.

The number of people identified as contacts left the school short-staffed, and administrators decided on Tuesday that middle-high school students would stay remote through the end of this week.

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This article will be updated.