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All Grand Island students could return to class May 19

Wed, May 12th 2021 09:50 am

Grade 6-12 kids may be back in class for 5 days, in-person

By Karen Carr Keefe

Grand Island secondary students could be heading back to five-day, in-person classes as soon as next Wednesday, May 19.

It all depends on whether the rate of COVID-19 cases in Erie County continues to decline.

School Superintendent Brian Graham said the county’s positivity rate is dropping very close to the numbers needed to show reduced risk, allowing older kids to return full, in-class instruction. The magic number is 100 new cases or fewer, per 100,000 of population, over a seven-day average.

On April 13, that number was 382 but, as of May 9, the number had dropped to 113.

If the 100-or-less mark is reached, the buses will be ready to roll on Wednesday for the middle and high school.

CDC guidelines issued in March required only 3 feet of physical distance between elementary students in class, down from the previous 6-foot rule, so the younger kids were brought back April 26. That’s because the CDC says there’s evidence coronavirus transmission rates are lower for elementary school students than for middle and high school students.

But with the county’s high-risk status in mid-April, older students were held to the 6-foot rule. That kept them in the hybrid instruction model – rotating half the students into school at a time, two days a week – because physical classroom space couldn’t accommodate them all.

Graham said, “Even though the community transmission rate has gone down, over the last week or so, we’ve had some individuals being identified as positive with COVID-19 in some of our schools. When that happens, we work collaboratively with the Erie County Department of Health to contract trace.”

He said only those individuals who are found to have come into close contact with the affected person for an extended amount of time would have to quarantine.

Also, Graham said the district expects those students who are currently 100% virtual learners would stay virtual even if five-day, in-class instruction resumes for students in grades 6 through 12.

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