Lake Placid schools to go remote for last 2 days before break

Lake Placid Middle-High School (News photo — Andy Flynn)

The Lake Placid Middle and High School will be going remote for the last two days of school before the holiday break — Dec. 21 and 22 — due to a staffing shortage.

In a voicemail from Superintendent Roger Catania to students and their families, he said there are “no new cases within our school community,” but that “staffing continues to be a challenge” in the older grade levels.

“Looking ahead to next week we anticipate that these challenges will worsen,” Catania said. “I know that these changes to school schedules and routines have not been easy, and I apologize for any disruption they have caused students and families. 2020 has been a year that has tested us all and yet I am very proud of all we have accomplished together.”

Catania said the Lake Placid Elementary School is not facing the same staffing shortage, so this change will only effect students in grades six through 12.

Saranac Lake schools are running on a similar system through the end of 2020, with middle and high school students staying remote and kindergarten through sixth-grade students returning. Superintendent Diane Fox also said this was because of low staffing numbers brought on by quarantines.

Tupper Lake

Tupper Lake Superintendent Russ Bartlett said his district is facing the same staffing troubles, and that is why all Tupper Lake schools are remaining remote in the few days before the break.

He said if the district does not see the same spike in cases after the holidays that it did after Thanksgiving, it will be able to resume in-person instruction on Jan. 4. If it does see a spike, school will start remotely and move to in-person at a later date if conditions improve.

Tupper Lake became the Franklin County epicenter for COVID-19 cases in the weeks after Thanksgiving, which is what led to the district returning to remote learning.

Bartlett said Tupper Lake’s plan of staying remote through the end of 2020 was not a “good” decision but the “right” one.

“I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that it was the right decision. I hate it,” Bartlett said. “But it was a necessity.”

He said staffing is the main reason for the need to stay remote. There are very few substitute teachers currently, he said.

“If we were in session we would have a very difficult time putting adults in the same room as kids just because of the number of people that are quarantined and/or sick,” Bartlett said. “Right now two-thirds of people are working from home.”

Bartlett said everyone’s stress level is at it’s peak, so he hopes this will be a relaxing break.

“Parents are doing a miraculous job trying to keep kids focused on school,” Bartlett said. “That’s got to be probably the most incredibly difficult job on earth.”