Ulster BOCES will shift to fully remote instruction beginning Wednesday, December 16, citing increased cases in Ulster County and the indoor classroom as a possible vector for spreading. The plan is to resume hybrid instruction January 15.
Here’s the full announcement from BOCES superintendent Charles Khoury:
As you are likely aware, the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Ulster County has been increasing on a daily basis. On November 1 there were 261 active cases in the county. On December 9 there were 1659 active cases, a 636% increase. On November 1 the percent of tests that were positive (positivity rate) was .3%. On December 9 the positivity rate was 6.3%. Simply put the virus is present in the county, it is spreading, and the rate of spread is increasing.
While our positive case numbers have been low, since late September, virtually every day symptomatic students and those teachers and students who have been in direct or proximate contact with them have had to remain home to either isolate or quarantine until cleared by health professionals. We have worked with you and our staff to take the necessary steps to keep our students in school. We have always maintained that we would only do so if we could, to the best of our ability, guarantee the health safety of our students and staff.
The data now suggests that this is no longer the case. The number of active cases in the county is now almost twice what it was during the height of the first wave of the pandemic in the Spring. The county is running low on available hospital beds. Every expert that we have consulted, including the Ulster County Commissioner of Health, indicates that we aren’t yet feeling the full impact of the post-holiday second wave. Contact tracing suggests that most of the transmission today occurs in small congregate settings. A school classroom is a congregate setting.
With those facts in mind, and to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff, we have decided to pivot all of our programs (CTE, Special Education, HVPA, Phoenix, and Ramapo) to full remote teaching and learning beginning on Wednesday, December 16. The period of full remote teaching and learning will extend through Friday, January 15. At the present time, we plan to return to in-person teaching and learning on Tuesday, January 19.
On Monday, December 14, and Tuesday, December 15, building principals will be communicating the teaching and learning schedules that we will be implementing during this transition period to all parents. Teachers will be communicating directly with their students as well.
As always, thank you for your understanding and cooperation.