School districts working with health department after students exposed to virus at party

School districts addressing coronavirus exposure at high school party in Marcy last week.

Posted: Oct 29, 2020 12:08 PM
Updated: Oct 29, 2020 4:56 PM

ORISKANY, N.Y. – After at least 50 high school students were exposed to coronavirus at a party over the weekend, Oriskany Central School District says none of the students who attended will be allowed in school until cleared by a doctor.

According to Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, students from Clinton, New Hartford, Oriskany, Sauquoit Valley and Whitesboro school districts were at the party, which took place at a home in Marcy on Friday. On Wednesday, Picente confirmed that someone who was at the party has tested positive for COVID-19.

Oriskany Superintendent Timothy Gaffney posted a letter Thursday, reassuring parents that the district is aware of the situation, and had started working with the Oneida County Health Department on safety protocols over the weekend.

“No student(s), that we have been made aware of, through the Department of Health, have been on campus or in school since the date of that gathering. No student(s) will be allowed back on campus or in the school until fully cleared by a health care provider,” Gaffney said in the letter.

Gaffney added that the school will remain open, and no further action is required from the district at this time, according to the health department.

New Hartford Superintendent Robert Nole sent a letter to the school community on Thursday, saying, in part:

"The district has been in contact with the DOH regarding this situation. In consultation with the DOH, our school will remain open and no further action is required to date from the district.

Our district had already established safety measures and protocols prior to the start of school on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Our contact tracing protocols were followed immediately and were set in place.

No students that we have been made aware of by the DOH have been in school since the date of that gathering, nor would such students be allowed back in school until duly cleared by a healthcare [sic] provider."

Sauquoit Valley Central School District Superintendent Ronald Wheelock also posted a letter on Thursday regarding the situation, which states, in part:

“In this particular case, what we know has been handled by the Department of Health and there is no further impact to our district.
Through contact tracing with the department of health, no student(s) that we have been made aware of have been on school grounds since the date of this gathering. Furthermore, no student(s) will return to school until they have been released to do so from the department of health.”

Wheelock said the district will notify parents if there is any potential health risk to the district.

Whitesboro Central School District did not directly address the party exposure, but did post a letter from Superintendent Brian Bellair on Monday, saying the district is aware of rising cases in the community, and will work with the health department to follow protocol.

The letter reads, in part:

"As you are likely aware, COVID-19 cases are increasing nationally.  Similarly, we are seeing an increase in the number of positive cases and close contacts in our school community and District.  In addition to posting our District’s data on the state dashboard, I want to ensure that you are aware of this increase. 

For privacy reasons, we are unable to provide much in the way of detail; however, be assured that the District is working very closely with the Oneida County Department of Health (OCDOH) with regard to contact tracing and quarantining as necessary.  The OCDOH informs all known individuals who may have been exposed, and provides appropriate guidance based on the unique circumstances of each case."

Bellair says while the district would like to avoid going fully remote, they do have a plan in place to do so if necessary.

Clinton Central School District says they have been contacted by the health department and are working with them on contact tracing.

NEWSChannel 2 has reached out to all of the districts involved, and is waiting to receive official comment from Whitesboro.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 607001

Reported Deaths: 34362
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