SALAMANCA — Two students in the Salamanca City Central School District have tested positive for COVID-19, district officials reported.

Superintendent Robert Breidenstein said the district learned Thursday afternoon that a student at Prospect Elementary School and a student at Seneca Intermediate School in the same family tested positive after a family member had tested positive earlier in the week, according to the Cattaraugus County Department of Health.

“Through our contact tracing efforts, we believe all students and adults who had contact with these students have been notified this evening,” he said Thursday.

Breidenstein said between 30 and 40 individuals in the schools would have been in contact with the two students in the buildings.

“We will continue our contract tracing under the direction of the county,” he explained. “We are going to support the county with contact tracing but we aren’t going to only rely on the county’s contact tracing. We just want to make sure.”

In accordance with the district’s safety and education plan, Breidenstein said Salamanca’s schools will remain on remote e-learning instruction through Dec. 2 with hybrid model students anticipated to return to campus Dec. 3.

“Those who were participating in e-learning shouldn’t see any interruptions,” he said. “Those who were hybrid still have some elements of remote e-learning. We continue to make contact with kids and families on a daily basis regarding instruction but also the social, emotional and health needs.”

In the buildings, the two classrooms the students primarily occupied were quarantined for a minimum 48 hours before a deep cleaning and sanitization process, Breidenstein said. Then a deep clean and sanitization will be performed this weekend and next week in all the spaces the people who were in contact with the two students had been since.

“Having everyone transition to e-learning and remote work further substantially reduces the likelihood of inadvertent cross-contamination,” he added. “We essentially have those spaces locked and crime scene sealed off.”

Breidenstein said the two-week building closure would not effect the curriculum schedule and that students and teachers should continue business as usual except for the Thanksgiving break.

The report of these positive cases came just two days after the district’s Board of Education meeting made plans to begin bringing more students onto campus after Thanksgiving was discussed by the board and administrators.

“The number of students returning immediately was relatively small,” Breidenstein said. “But again, if we get the all clear and we’re safe, we will likely resume those plans.”

At this time, Breidenstein said the bigger scheduling concern is the impact on co-curricular, extra-curricular and sports activities. He said the safety committee will revisit the district’s safety plan to make independent decisions on clubs and activities and the low-risk winter sports season has been delayed until Dec. 14.

Over the next two weeks, the district will continue to provide transportation to all off-site programs such as Ellicottville CTE, Big Picture and other special placements, depending upon the specific locations protocol, Breidenstein said. To help minimize food waste, breakfast and lunch pickups will be centralized to one location.

“This is happening in a real-time accelerating pace,” he said. “We are fortunate in that we have invested both the staff and the technology to pull this off. … I think we just get better at it simply because we practice it, we follow the plan and trust the process.”

For further concerns or questions, contact Ray Haley, safety and security coordinator, at (716) 244-7299; Dr. Mark Beehler, deputy superintendent, at (716) 289-3456; or Breidenstein at (716) 220-2815.

(Contact Salamanca Press editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com.)

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