Salamanca City Central School District main campus

The Salamanca City Central School District main campus on Iroquois Drive.

SALAMANCA — The Salamanca City Central School District moved to a virtual learning Monday model due to COVID-19.

In a letter to parents posted on the district’s website Friday afternoon, Superintendent Robert Breidenstein announced the school would move to remote learning through at least Wednesday.

While students are instructed to stay home, staff should report to school Monday.

“The district continues to actively monitor our COVID cases, instances of quarantine as well as staff and student absences,” he said. “It should not come as a surprise to our community that each of these categories of concern are growing at an alarming rate.”

He added the Salamanca school district is in the same boat as other districts, businesses and municipalities in the region.

On Thursday, the district identified a 26% student absentee rate and 66 staff members were absent, Briedenstein reported. On Friday there was a 25% student absentee rate and 64 staff members absent.

Additionally, a combined 58 student and staff absences are directly attributable to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, he said.

“These rates are the highest they have been since March 2020,” Breidenstein added.

During Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, it was reported that 37 students and 18 staff had tested positive by the first day back from the holiday break.

The good news, Breidenstein said, is the instances of illness are not translating to severe COVID-19 reactions. The CDC has provided revised guidance to shorten the quarantine period for essential workers, of which school personnel is designated, and co-curricular activities, clubs and sports seem to have lower COVID positive rates, he said.

However, Breidenstein said the bad news is there is clear evidence of in-school transmission. “We know the Omicron variant is quite virulent and transmissible,” he said. “We have reached the point where I cannot in good conscience or fidelity say we can safely and properly implement our in-person academic programs during the regular school day.”

Breidenstein said he will re-evaluate if the school can safely resume in-person instruction for a portion of next week by 11 a.m. Tuesday.

During the remote period, food service will continue daily. Vocational students and out-of-district special education student placements will be transported daily.

Clubs and sports will continue during the remote period following previously announced protocols. Participants must be rapid tested during shut down and spectators will be limited.

Prospect Elementary students will have a material drop off mid-day Monday.

“Lastly, our goal is to return to in-person or a hybrid instructional model as soon as it is safe to do so,” Breidenstein concluded. “Please be safe, follow the guidance and if you feel sick, please stay home until you are symptom free.”

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)

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