Hannah Rosenberg / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Two public schools in Ithaca close after three students test positive.

October 23, 2020

Positive COVID-19 Tests Force Two Local Schools Back to Remote Learning

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Two Ithaca public schools have returned to distanced learning following three positive COVID-19 cases among students.

As of Thursday, the Tompkins County Health Department reported 13 new cases and 87 active cases in the county — the uptick mirrors trends across the Southern Tier region.

Ithaca High School and Cayuga Heights Elementary School closed Wednesday following positive test results from three IHS students. The schools will operate remotely until they are deemed safe to reopen.

Although both schools planned to reopen for in-person learning Oct. 26, IHS has since had to extend its virtual learning. This extension comes after the schools released an updated estimation on the number of students and faculty who came into contact with the infected parties and are now quarantining. It is unclear how many students and faculty members came into contact with the infected students.

Luvelle Brown, superintendent of the Ithaca City School District, he wrote in a letter that IHS will remain closed to in-person learning until Nov. 9. No students will be allowed to return to the building before then. It is unclear if Cayuga Height Elementary School will remain closed past Oct. 26.

According to Ithaca City Public Schools COVID-19 protocol, students and faculty must quarantine for 14 days after any exposure to someone who tested positive. Those who have symptoms but are not tested must undergo a 10-day quarantine with at least 72 asymptomatic hours before returning to school. Students who exhibit symptoms but test negative can return to school if they can provide proof of a negative test.

Free breakfast and lunch options provided by the school district will still be available to students from the closed schools for pickup for the duration of the remote learning period.

In his statement to the IHS community, Brown stressed that it was important for Ithaca residents to remain vigilant, asking them to continue social distancing and wearing masks.

“Our collective attention to these habits will help keep our community healthy and help us return to in-person learning,” Brown said.