TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y.—Several local school districts have made the choice to pivot to full online learning leading into the holiday break as COVID-19 cases continue a worrisome climb around Tompkins County.

Of the seven districts in the county, five have publicly announced that they will be suspending in-person courses until January. It seems all are doing so not in reaction to widespread infections within the actual school buildings, but rather because a high number of either students or teachers are quarantined due to contact with a small number of positive cases—either among those in their individual school communities or community contact outside of school.

The Ithaca City School District announced it would be going online until Jan. 4, when they will attempt to return to in-person courses for students who chose that option. Dr. Luvelle Brown, the district’s superintendent, said in his letter to the district that ICSD would be implementing a testing program upon returning.

“We are in the midst of coordinating this testing program and will provide updates to our community when finalized,” Brown said. “Thank you for your valiant efforts in the midst of challenging circumstances. Our community continues to exhibit flexibility, patience and commitment to young people. I wish you a safe and restorative end to 2020.”

Otherwise, Lansing Central School District (according to a WHCU report) has announced they will be closing schools until mid-January, with the district planning on holding distance learning until the holiday break begins. They have a tentative plan in place to come back by Jan. 11.

Like the others, Trumansburg Central School District announced that it would be closing its buildings to students through the beginning of its holiday break, though they have an added wrinkle: their break will last until Jan. 4, when they will return to distance learning for one week before opening classrooms again for in-person learning on Jan. 11.

“We are currently struggling to adequately provide classroom coverage in far too many of our classrooms,” wrote Tina Lincoln, the district’s secretary to the superintendent. “Our commitment to teachers and students to keep them in similar pods is no longer possible as we have multiple adults covering any one classroom daily.”

Trumansburg’s school lunch delivery will continue through Dec. 22 and resume after the new year.

Similarly, Dryden Central School District, according to 14850.com, announced their intention to convert to fully online learning until Jan. 4.

The Ithaca Voice is awaiting a response from Groton Central School District and Newfield School District regarding their plans for the next several weeks.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com