KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane Board of Education held its first meeting of 2021 last week on Zoom with board members, administrators and the public joining the meeting online. The board had been hosting in-person meetings with an online option for the public for the last few months.
At the January 12 meeting, the board talked about the number of positive Covid-19 cases going up in the county. Though a few board members said they preferred to meet in person, they also expressed concerns about the spread and the possibility of exposing staff and administrators to the virus.
“We see the numbers,” said Board President Matthew Nelson. The board and administration plan to look at options for a hybrid model of meeting where possibly the board meets together with the public participating in the meeting remotely.
As for the school population, the middle and high school moved to remote learning this week due to positive Covid-19 cases. Last week the high school and the entire 6th grade in the middle school were remote. But Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow told the board that even with the high numbers in the county, “We have not seen the spread in the schools.” And later in the meeting she said, “We have not had a case from an exposure in school.”
The superintendent said one issue for staying open for in-person classes was a decline in the number of available substitute teachers this year. The shortage of substitutes creates problems with staffing when teachers must quarantine because of exposure to Covid-19. Ms. Guntlow said the school was focused on staying open for in-person classes.
She also said that even though the infection rates are high in the Capital Region and in Columbia County, the area has not been moved into one of the governor’s designated zones, where in-school testing is required.
In order for the schools to remain open, the district is required to test specific percentages of in-person students, teachers, and staff for Covid-19 if the school is in a designated yellow, orange, or red zone. Currently Ichabod Crane is not in one of those zones.
“We have it all mapped out should we have to start testing,” Ms. Guntlow said at the meeting.
The superintendent said that some staff members, including school nurses, had received their Covid-19 vaccines and that the governor announced that teachers could start getting vaccinated, but she said the county Department of Health (DOH) was completely overwhelmed last week.
The DOH “had no idea this was coming,” she said of the governor’s announcement. She also said that there is a limited supply of the vaccine available in the county.
For information about the vaccine see the DOH press release on page 7 of this issue. Additional information can be found at https://www.columbiacountynyhealth.com/news/covid-19-vaccine-information or contact the New York State Covid-19 Vaccine Hotline at 1-833-697-4829 or https://covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov to register for the vaccine in the Capital District area.
‘We have not had a case from an exposure in school.’
Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow
Ichabod Crane School District
Also at the meeting:
• The board reviewed the rollover budget as they prepare to review the 2021-22 school year budget. A schedule of budget meetings was on the agenda. Currently, the annual budget vote is scheduled for May 18
• Ms. Guntlow updated the board on the major construction project in the high school and middle school buildings. One wing, or pod, of the middle is complete and students have moved into the new classrooms. Work has started on the next pod.
In the high school, the new art rooms are currently being used and the guidance office is complete. Work has started in the science wing
• Assistant Superintendent Lucas Christensen presented the board with information about academic intervention due to the high failure rate during the first quarter of the school year. Some students will be attending additional days in the middle school and high school for help. Currently students in those buildings attend in-person school two days a week and work remotely for the rest of the week. Mr. Christensen also said there would be calls to parents when students who are failing and targeted homerooms.
The next board meeting will be Tuesday, February 2. Information on how to attend that meeting will be online at the district website at www.ichabodcrane.org
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email email@example.com