DELMAR — Bethlehem Central has more than 250 students and two dozen staff members in quarantine, and it has decided to move students from its junior and senior high schools to remote learning until the end of December break.
The district reported four new cases of COVID-19 last Friday, bringing the seven-day total to 17 since Friday, Dec. 4.
“These numbers reflect the post-holiday surge that we have seen across the area and throughout the country,” stated Bethlehem Central Superintendent Jody Monroe in a Friday evening email. “The cascading effect of the increasing COVID cases has created a significant strain on staffing, not only in classrooms but in student support areas and in transportation.”
December has been the hardest month on the school district. Five of the district’s seven schools have had either single classes or the entire school transition to and from all-remote learning, “causing uncertainty and disruption for students and staff alike,” Monroe stated.
District officials committed themselves to provide in-school learning to as many of its nearly 4,500 students when it launched its reopening plan in September. The months leading up to the academic year was defined by meetings, workshops and surveys to determine who would attend classes, and who would choose remote learning.
Read the district’s email below.
An important message from Superintendent Jody Monroe:
Dear BC family:
Since Friday, Dec. 4, there have been 17 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the Bethlehem Central School District. This includes four that were confirmed today. These numbers reflect the post-holiday surge that we have seen across the area and throughout the country. As a result, we currently have more than 250 students and two dozen staff members — mostly teachers — in quarantine. Five of seven schools have had classes or the entire school transition to and from all-remote learning, causing uncertainty and disruption for students and staff alike.
To allow us to prioritize our staff resources, and provide more continuity for all students, we have made the decision to have students at the middle school and high school transition to all-remote learning beginning Monday, Dec. 14. In-person instruction for grades 6-12 will be suspended through the end of the holiday break. All elementary schools in the district will continue in-person instruction.
The cascading effect of the increasing COVID cases has created a significant strain on staffing, not only in classrooms but in student support areas and in transportation. Substitutes are not readily available to fill these positions, compounding the staffing shortage across the district. By allowing students in grades 6-12 to be learning from home, we are able to redirect staff support to other buildings to assist with daily in-person learning for K-5 students.
When we announced our reopening plan last summer, we set our sights on making K-5 in-person learning a priority. We believe doing so has proven to be the right choice, with both students and staff who are making the most of this unusual year. And, teachers at the secondary level have proven to be skilled at delivering online instruction to students at the middle school and high school. Students have indicated in recent weeks a desire for more continuity and many have elected to transition to all-remote learning themselves, prior to today’s decision.
While this situation is far from ideal, we believe consolidating our resources at this time will help us minimize the strain of staffing shortages and allow us to continue to provide in-person instruction to our youngest learners and to those who need it most at this time.
As always, I thank you for your continued support for the school district as we navigate this school year. We could not do it without you. If you have any questions regarding this transition for middle school and high school students, please feel free to email me at [email protected]
To read more of the email, visit the district website above or our website at spotlightnews.com.