Salamanca schools to continue at-home learning through Jan. 18

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Board of Education gave the go-ahead to continue remote instruction through at least Jan. 18 with the possibility of that date extending again next week.

SALAMANCA — As the rate of positive COVID-19 cases continues to rise, the Salamanca City Central School District is keeping its buildings closed and students at home for two more weeks.

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Board of Education gave the go-ahead to continue remote instruction through at least Jan. 18 with the possibility of that date extending again next week.

The district transitioned to a virtual learning plan in November after two positive cases in the schools and, with averages not decreasing, remained remote through December.

“The district has spent several days reviewing the data that we have available to us, and unfortunately not much has changed,” said Dr. Mark Beehler, deputy superintendent. “We anticipated that there would be some changes and fluctuations and increases after the holidays.”

Superintendent Robert Breidenstein said without a change in the data, it would be wise for the district to continue remote instruction for the health and safety of students and staff alike. He said the average seven-day positive rate was at 10%, which is above Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated level for schools to consider closing.

“While I would very much like to say ‘we’re open for business, let’s have the kids back in school,’ I think we subscribed to our plan that’s based on science and numbers, the identification rates and where the trends are taking us,” he added. “The data just doesn’t support a return at this time.”

Board member Kerry John said he thinks continuing remote instruction is the right approach, noting the closeness to the holiday break. Board President Theresa Ray agreed, saying the extra two weeks will be a good time frame to see if anyone in the school tests positive before returning to the buildings.

In a post on the school website Wednesday, Breidenstein said all teaching staff will be permitted to return to buildings if they choose, including employees who reside in Orange microclusters, such as in Erie County.

“Since there is little difference between the positive and transmission rate in Orange/Yellow and non-designated areas, our precaution of requiring microcluster staff members to work remote is no longer applicable,” he said.

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