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Virus affects where kids learn and what it costs Hudson schools


HUDSON—Finances, the high school swimming pool and health measures dominated the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education meeting January 5.

The new stimulus package that Congress passed in December includes four times as much money for “education-related expenses” as the previous package but still less than what advocates had hoped for, Businesses Administrator Jesse Boehme reported. Of this, New York should get $4 billion, which “we’re waiting to see how the state will distribute,” he said.

“We’re still unsure of the amount of state aid we will be receiving this year,” Mr. Boehme added later. The possibility that the state will cut up to 20% less than budgeted for this school year still looms.

The year runs from July through June 30 and state aid comes in installments. The installments received so far have been approximately as budgeted, so cuts would hit the later installments hard. The state could use its federal stimulus “to offset any reduction in school aid,” Mr. Boehme acknowledged. “We’re hoping it will.”

Meanwhile, preliminary work has begun on the 2021-22 school budget.

On another topic, the Hudson High School pool is now open but only to people directly connected to the school. But Pool Coordinator and Lifeguard Matt Leonard, who is also a Columbia County deputy sheriff, has asked if the Sheriff’s Office can use the pool to train its diving team on weekends in February, reported Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier. The sessions could typically include five people: two deputies, their trainer, and a lifeguard. Dr. Suttmeier asked the Board of Education to determine whether District policy would allow this.

‘We’re still unsure of the amount of state aid we will be receiving this year.’

Business Administrator Jesse Boehme

Hudson City School District

Points to consider include:

• Whatever the district decides, the board will have to consider requests from other members of the community to use the pool, Dr. Suttmeier observed

• The high school swim team is to use the pool the same month

• Sanitizing the pool after use

• A board member wondered how easily the coronavirus could be transmitted through water.

Meanwhile, Dr. Suttmeier reported, 21 people tested positive for Covid-19 and those cases “have been reported to the district” since the start of school in September 2020. There have been six positive tests for the virus since December 23. Ten staff members and five or six students were under quarantine the day of the meeting, added Human Resources Director Rachel Rissetto. She said people come on and off the quarantine list every day.

Whenever there is a positive case, Dr. Suttmeier said, the district has to do “due diligence” as soon as officials are made aware of it, even during weekends, vacations or holidays. “I want to thank Rachel” for doing so much of the due diligence work, which includes some contact tracing, Dr. Suttmeier said.

Through this tracing, “we know that” the virus is not spreading “in our schools,” she said. Those infected got the virus somewhere else.

Whenever someone is quarantined, the rooms they used undergo extra deep cleaning, including spraying with disinfectant, before anybody is allowed in the room, reported Mr. Boehme. This is in addition to the lighter cleaning the rooms get every day the rooms are used and the deep cleaning they get every Wednesday and Saturday.

Somebody asked if the district was considering returning to all remote instruction. Dr. Suttmeier said that one district had had to do so because it did not have enough non-quarantined staff to conduct an in-person school day. But for now this is not necessary at HCSD, though the situation can change daily.

The next meeting of the Hudson City School District Board of Education will take place Tuesday, January 19, at 6 p.m. It will begin with a curriculum workshop for the Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School and proceed to the regular meeting.

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