North Salem Central School District announces that schools will reopen for in-person instruction January 3
Amid a surge in coronavirus infections in the region, including the town of North Salem reporting its highest case rate ever in December, the North Salem Central School District announced Sunday that it would reopen for in-person instruction on Monday, January 3. District administrators said on Sunday that they have enough staff available at both PQ and the MSHS to open Monday at the regularly scheduled times.
The district on Sunday distributed to registered K-12 students over 700 of the 1,016 kits it received. The tests were secured as part of a collaborative initiative with New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s office and Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES. Keeping schools open is noted as the first “plank” of Gov. Hochul’s five-part “Winter Surge 2.0” plan, released December 31. Adam VanDerStuyf, assistant superintendent of pupil personnel services for North Salem schools said, "we are unsure if this was a one time allotment or if Districts will be receiving additional allotments in the future."
In a note sent to families Saturday night, North Salem Middle/High School principal Vince DiGrandi and Pequenakonck Elementary School principal Mary Johnson wrote, “the goal is for students to use these at-home tests [Sunday], prior to school opening on Monday morning,” wrote. “It is not mandatory for students to test, yet we are making these test kits available for those that wish to utilize them before school begins.”
On Christmas Eve, the Town of North Salem distributed approximately 900 at-home test kits to residents through a Westchester County initiative. Supervisor Warren Lucas said he does not expect the Town to receive additional kits from the County though he noted that if it does, he will ensure that the tests are again made available to residents.
The decision to reopen North Salem schools comes amid a continued surge of coronavirus cases in the region, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Westchester County reported a 24% positivity rate for all tests conducted January 1. Over 3,000 new positive cases were reported in the county that day.
Several area schools announced Sunday that they would pivot to remote instruction or reduced schedules for the week ahead, due to staffing issues caused by a rapid increase in positive cases. Among those are Yorktown middle and high schools, some Mahopac schools, Ossining and Chappaqua school districts.