DRYDEN, N.Y.—With several positive COVID-19 tests in the Dryden Central School District community, a large number of students and staff have been ordered into quarantine, leading to at least four days of remote learning for the entire district.

The announcement was made by Superintendent Joshua Bacigalupi in a community letter over the weekend, sent out to parents from each school in the district. The district includes Cassavant Elementary School, Dryden Elementary, Middle and High Schools and Freeville Elementary School, and 1,310 students.

In the letter, Bacigalupi states that three additional positive cases were found by the Tompkins County Health Department, two in Dryden Elementary and one in Dryden High School. It does not specify whether they are staff or students, however the state’s COVID-19 Report Card shows that seven students and one staff member in the district have tested positive during the last two weeks (the staff number may be out of date, as it was last updated on Nov. 23).

December 3 is the first day that Bacigalupi said there will be enough staff out of quarantine to be able to facilitate in-person learning again, though he seemed to indicate that could change depending on quarantine status of others.

“There are 200 plus and climbing individuals who are quarantined including staff and we will not be open to in-person instruction on Monday, November 29, 2021,” Bacigalupi wrote. “In addition, due to the rate of positive cases it is difficult to be sure at this time that there is not some community spread in the district. […] As stated, our goal is to return to in person instruction on December 3, 2021, but will keep families and staff apprised of the situation.”

Staff members who aren’t quarantined (“across all bargaining units”) are still required to report to work. Students will be marked absent if they don’t log into classes (or complete the work otherwise if their internet isn’t stable). Students will be able to pick up materials left at school buildings over the Thanksgiving break on Monday.

This appears to be the first time an entire district in Tompkins County has gone to remote learning during this school year— there have certainly been plenty of cases among school communities but not many closures. At this stage of the pandemic, closures are far more likely to be the result of staffing shortages from close contact quarantines rendering in-person learning impossible, as opposed to fear over in-school transmission.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com