Lake Placid Middle-High School goes remote again as staff member tests positive

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

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid Middle-High School is shifting its students to remote learning again after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

In a call to parents on Wednesday, district Superintendent Roger Catania said middle and high school students would attend class remotely on Thursday and Friday while the Essex County Health Department conducts contact tracing.

This isn’t the first time a case of COVID-19 has been discovered at Lake Placid Central School District. Since September, the district has seen at least seven cases of COVID-19, according to the state’s COVID-19 Report Card database. Of those, one was a staff member, four were off-site students, and two were on-site students.

The staff member who tested positive recently was at school on Monday and Tuesday, Catania said. Any person who was in direct contact with the staff member who tested positive will be required to quarantine for at least 10 days.

New quarantine guidance was issued by the state this week, lowering the mandatory quarantine period from 14 to 10 days as long as the person in quarantine doesn’t develop symptoms, though those authorized to leave quarantine after 10 days are still asked to self-monitor for symptoms for another four days.

Those identified as close contacts may be contacted by the school, not the health department, according to Catania.

That’s unusual, but there’s more contact tracing to be done than ever before because the number of COVID-19 cases across Essex County has hit new highs. At the same time, the county Health Department is also preparing for its rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, which may pull staff away from contact tracing after the eligibility requirements expand to include more people.

“Typically, Essex County Public Health contacts all individuals directly who have had contact with the positive individual, but because of their expanding workload school employees will be making the initial contact — anyone who we contact should plan on a 10-day quarantine unless released by the health department,” Catania said in a robocall to parents on Wednesday afternoon. “While we will be looking to resume in-person instruction on Monday we will make a final decision on that once contact tracing is complete.”

In line with the school’s policy, which was established before the 2020-21 school year started, the middle-high school building is expected to undergo a deep clean before students arrive back.

This temporary closure won’t affect the elementary school.

“I know that these situations raise the anxiety and stress level for many of us, so while there are no additional details that we can share at the present time, please be assured that contact tracing is very thorough and all affected individuals will be notified. I appreciate your understanding as we continue to navigate this challenging time. We will be providing updates as they become available. Thanks for your ongoing support,” Catania said.