The following is a guest commentary that the leaders of FEH BOCES and all 10 of our component districts submitted to local newspapers.
What you do outside of school has a direct impact on whether schools can remain open to in-person learning.
Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES serves 23 schools across 10 school districts, and it operates two schools itself. Out of all of the students, staff and teachers in all of those schools and school districts, we are only aware of a handful of COVID-19 being spread within our schools since September.
We have strong plans in place to prevent spread of the virus once it’s brought into our schools – physical distancing, strict mask adherence, cleaning standards and more. Each of our school districts has a reopening plan that can be viewed on our websites that sets forth this guidance. These rules have been successful in stopping pandemic spread inside our buildings.
Yet several of our schools have had to send our schools fully remote for weeks, even months, at a time. All of our schools have had to spend at least a few weeks in remote learning since September. Our students are not getting the classroom time that many of them want and need.
Why? Because people outside of school are not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID. We regularly have to shut down programs and sometimes entire buildings and districts because people aren’t adhering to COVID precautions in their leisure time, and they bring the virus into our schools. Data from health department officials tells us that most of the spread happens in people’s homes when multiple households get together.
Often, the virus isn’t even brought into school, but the number of people who end up in quarantine related to off-campus spread can have a devastating impact on the schools. One lunch or small gathering can wipe out an entire grade for two weeks, or an entire building in some of our smaller districts.
We can’t police what happens outside of schools. We have to ask you to be responsible, and trust that you will do your best to keep our schools open.
With all of that in mind, we ask that you remember our schools when making plans for the Super Bowl this weekend. Many people are used to gathering for the big game, throwing parties at home or gathering at local establishments. This year is not the same as other years, though – we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and traditional fun can have serious consequences.
We don’t like having to ask you to stay home, but everything we do is with the students of our districts in mind. We ask that you, with our students in mind, please keep your Super Bowl festivities to your own household.
Dale Breault, District Superintendent, Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES
Todd LaPage, Superintendent, Brushton-Moira Central School District
Loretta Fowler, Superintendent, Chateaugay Central School District
Roger Catania, Superintendent, Lake Placid Central School District
Noelle Short, Superintendent, Long Lake Central School District
Jerry Griffin, Superintendent, Malone Central School District
Richard Rose, Superintendent, Raquette Lake Union Free School
Timothy Seymour, Superintendent, St. Regis Falls Central School District
Stanley Harper, Superintendent, Salmon River Central School District
Diane Fox, Superintendent, Saranac Lake Central School District
Russ Bartlett, Superintendent, Tupper Lake Central School District