KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane Board of Education held an in-person and online meeting November 3. Board members, school staff and members of the public met in the primary school cafeteria while the district also offered the public the option to use Zoom to join the meeting online. One board member, Susan Ramos, attended the meeting through Zoom.
This was the first board meeting since the district confirmed several positive Covid-19 cases among students in all three school buildings. On Sunday, October 25 the district emailed and called parents to announce the decision to close the primary school and move to online learning for middle and high school students on Monday, October 26 due to a primary school student testing positive for Covid-19. The district assisted the county Department of Health (DOH) with contact tracing, and more testing led to more positive cases. On October 29 the school emailed parents again saying, “We have confirmed there was one positive student in the middle school and two positive students in the high school.”
On October 27, the primary school opened to all classes but the one with the positive case. The district sent out an email saying that students in that class would work online with their teacher and “will need to quarantine for the required 14-day period.” They planned to have them back in the building on November 6.
Middle school students continued taking classes remotely until Friday, October 30, with some students returning to the district. Last week, middle school students attended in-person classes while some of their teachers taught remotely due to being quarantined.
In a later email, Schools Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow said that due to the positive cases in the high school, “over 90 high school students and over 20 staff members [are] being quarantined.” High school students remained on a remote learning schedule until November 9, when they returned to the hybrid schedule of half the students attending in-person classes Monday/Tuesday and the other half on Thursday/Friday.
At the board meeting November 3, Superintendent Guntlow called the late October move to remote learning “a little bump in the road.” She said that the staff and students “rolled with” the changes to the schedule. She also talked about an email she sent out to parents last week about the state’s Covid safety guidelines and the need for them to be followed outside of school as well. Her email reads in part, “While we are taking every possible precaution in school, we are relying on you—the Ichabod Crane parents, families and community members—to work with us by ensuring students are following the safety guidelines outside school. This is for the protection of everyone in the district and preserves the ability to keep our schools open and functioning.”
Her email also says: “over the recent Halloween weekend I received several emails from concerned community members letting me know about a party where it is alleged that Ichabod Crane students were in attendance” and Covid safety protocols were not being followed.
“Not only will this sort of unsafe behavior outside school affect the safety of everyone in the schools, it also makes contact tracing investigation much more difficult for the Department of Health. I cannot say enough about how the students are doing an amazing job following Covid safety protocols at school, but it’s crucial they understand that when they leave school, these protocols need to continue. This is a shared responsibility between the district and families, so I am asking for your help in keeping everyone in our community as safe as possible.”
On November 8 and November 9, parents were emailed again saying that another middle school student and a primary school student had tested positive and that the DOH had reached out to anyone who had close contact with the student. The middle school and the primary school did not move to online learning due to these cases. Both emails said, “all contacts to the positive case have been notified of the mandatory quarantine period.” No further action needed to be taken by families that were not contacted.
‘I am asking for your help in keeping everyone in our community as safe as possible.’
Supt. Suzanne Guntlow
ICC School District
Also at the meeting:
• At the beginning of the school year, students could choose to come back to school and take in-person classes or learn remotely from home. At the board meeting, Ms. Guntlow reported that 65 students asked to attend in-person classes next semester from the fully remote option offered in September, and 28 have asked to change to fully remote learning (20 of those in the high school). She said the district was able to offer the in-person classes for those students wishing to return and continue current safety protocols
• The superintendent also said that enrollment overall in the district is down from last year and on the lower side of what was predicted in an enrollment study done by the district. She said there was an increase in home schooled students, who are not enrolled in the district unlike the students who are taking classes remotely. She pointed out that the increase in homeschooling is consistent with the increases in other districts in the area
• The board received a presentation on technology from the district’s director of information technology, Paul Caputo. Students in the primary school who needed a device to work on at home now have them. And Mr. Caputo reported that there are intrusion detection programs that have shut down three attacks on the district’s computer system. “I feel confident in our system,” he told the board. He also said they are putting funding in the budget next year for more Chromebook laptops
• District Business Manager Michael Brennan reported that the district had not seen any cut in state so far this year. He also said the district is putting out requests for proposals on banking services
•The board granted tenure to high school English teacher Katherine Goold effective January 24, 2021.
The next board meeting will be December 1 at 7 p.m. in the primary school. There is more information on the board meetings at www.ichabodcrane.org
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email