Elementary Yearbook is now on sale! 👏
Our talented 5th grade Sewing Extended Day class finished their session by making hats and scarves! They used the sewing machines and fringed their items to finish them. We might have some future designers in our presence! 🧶🧵
Join the Falcon Family! 💛 We're hiring at our Elementary School for a long-term PE Teacher starting in April. If you or anyone you know is perfect for the job, apply here: https://bit.ly/3tR0f6d 🏀🏈
The South Seneca Board of Education will hold its regular meeting on Wednesday, January 26 at 7pm in the Middle-High School, Ovid.
With new cases being reported through multiple channels now, including self-reporting from home tests, South Seneca will move to weekly public notices. Since returning to in-person instruction on January 18, we've received reports of nineteen (19) new cases, 15 students and 4 staff members.
One of our Falcon family members, Luke Wellin, donated his father's Interlaken high school letterman jacket. This jacket is from the late 1960's just before Interlaken and Ovid merged to create the South Seneca Central School District! The student in this picture is Thomas Wellin, Luke's son and namesake to his grandfather, who's jacket this originally belonged to. Be sure to check out this generous donation in our display case by the auditorium of the Elementary School #ForeverFalcons
We are heartbroken tonight to learn of the passing of Mary Church, who succumbed to injuries as the result of a car accident yesterday. We are confident that almost all of you reading this have been blessed by Mary’s endless generosity and service over a life dedicated to others. She served for decades in the field of education, not only here at home but literally around the globe. But most of all, she loved South Seneca. She served on our Board of Education for many years. She loved to talk about being the “founder” of our Alternative Classroom in the Ovid building, where she made it her mission to make sure every student who entered that room knew they were valued and loved. I saw her face light up when she talked about running into former students who remembered her kindness years and years later. People remember her knitting through meetings—always making another hat, or scarf, sweater to give as a gift. I saw her give a hat away at last Wednesday’s board meeting, and it pains me to realize now that it was her last. She took time to read to her grandchildren’s classes. She was currently serving as South Seneca’s representative on the TST BOCES school board, and she was so active in the Four County School Boards Association and the Central New York School Boards Association, that members of those organizations across the state knew her by name—you couldn’t attend a statewide meeting with her without so many people saying, “Hi, Mary!” And now, we say goodbye, Mary. We love you, and know that you’ll be watching over us. Forever Falcons! With a heavy heart, Steve Parker Zielinski
Thank you again to the entire South Seneca school community for the cooperation, patience, and adjustments necessary while we have been in our fully remote instructional model the last two weeks. During this period the district has processed over 70 new reports of students and staff testing positive for COVID-19, and we continue to wish each of these individuals good health as they work through symptoms. Many of the cases have been closed now, as isolation periods have expired. We will return to full in-person instruction in the district on Tuesday, January 18, weather permitting. The newest health department guidance, issued over the last few days, will shorten quarantine and isolation periods, open the way to more self-reporting of test results, and give special school-day access to some individuals who are otherwise quarantined. We encourage everyone in the community to review the new guidance, either on our website or through health department resources. We anticipate that the new process will allow us to remain in-person for the rest of our school year. Most importantly, it remains an essential part of our success that those who are experiencing any symptoms at all stay home and recover. The experience of the last month has been a stark reminder about how aggressively contagious this strain of COVID-19 is proving to be, and it is often the case that someone is contagious before they know they are positive themselves. The onset of symptoms is a clear indicator to be cautious. Anyone symptomatic at school will end up in our nurses’ offices for observation and testing, which adds to the challenges for an already very busy office. Wintertime is typically a season where we see an increase in symptoms even in non-pandemic years, and we are hopeful that when spring comes, the numbers of new cases will have slowed. As always, our collective success will depend on everyone working together.
January 11: All TST BOCES programs are canceled today.
The South Seneca Board of Education will hold its regular meeting on Wednesday, January 12 at 7pm in the Elementary Auditorium in Interlaken.
As we finish up this first week of remote learning, we have a few new updates to report: 1. There continue to be new cases of school community members testing positive this week, but we have every reason to expect our planned return to in-person instruction on January 18 to be on track. Even this week at the state and county levels, health departments are revisiting guidance for contact tracing and quarantine policies with an eye on facilitating keeping students in school in person. 2. We are pleased to report that every athlete and coach who participated in COVID screening Thursday tested negative. Teams are back to practices, and competitions will return as early as this weekend. 3. Seneca County has shifted its method of collecting reports about residents testing positive at home. The Health Department is discontinuing the email method of reporting, and instead is asking residents to visit their website at www.senecacountyhealthdepartment.com to report their results. There will be a link on the website to walk users through the process. Please continue to reach out to teachers and principals as issues arise during the rest of our remote learning period. We all recognize that there is no substitute for in-person learning, but our goal is to provide the best possible continuity of instruction at all levels while we are remote. Feedback so far has been very positive, and we are grateful for the whole community, from those delivering instruction to those receiving it, working together to make it the best it can be. We know there will always be problems to solve, so don’t hesitate to ask questions along the way. As we move into next week, we will continue to provide updates, especially related to any adjustments coming from the health departments. As always, thank you to all for your cooperation and understanding.
Here are some important updates as we transition to a fully remote instructional model through January 14: 1. Athletic Director Tim Crane will be communicating with coaches about the district lifting our temporary ‘pause’ on teams on Thursday, January 6. As long as participants are free of symptoms, out of quarantines, and testing negative for COVID, practices can resume Thursday, and games/contests can resume after this week. Because we continue to have school days, and our reason for moving to a remote model is not about facility safety but about staffing shortages, athletics will be cleared to resume. 2. TST BOCES has adjusted its policies this school year for students attending their programs. Even while South Seneca operates a remote instruction model in Interlaken and Ovid, South Seneca students are welcome to attend their BOCES programs while they remain asymptomatic. The district will continue to transport students to these programs over the course of the next two weeks. 3. Our food service department will be working with our transportation department to deliver meals to families who want them. Please look for our survey on the district website to make your request. 4. The most dire staff shortages we are seeing this week are in Interlaken, and this includes cleaning staff. We will need to substantially shut the Elementary School building down through Saturday, which means we will be unable to host community groups during that time. Mr. Crane will look to relocate any of our Interlaken practices to Ovid this week. 5. Our nurses’ offices in both buildings will continue to offer open hours each weekday on a limited basis. Nurses are available for consultation, arranging for COVID testing, and other questions. Please continue to look for communications from principals as we move to our remote model for instruction. As always, we appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience during a transition we had hoped to avoid.
During the holiday break, South Seneca received reports of twenty-two (22) new positive COVID test results, including fourteen (14) students, two (2) teachers, and six (6) staff members. These are cases that do not involve any exposure at school, as they occurred during a break when school was not in session. Contact tracing conducted by county nurses identified many other individuals, including South Seneca staff members, as close contacts requiring quarantine at home. As more reports were received Saturday and Sunday, we are approaching nearly 15% of our staff in Interlaken, across all departments, unable to report to work in early January. More intend to take COVID tests on Monday, and we assume some of them will test positive. The numbers are rising for staff in Ovid as well. Each positive test result will trigger more contacts assigned to quarantine. Throughout the pandemic, part of the story in all school districts is the challenge of providing substitute workers in assignments where staff are temporarily unable to be at work. Every district is managing this task with a depleted pool of available subs, and there are times when no substitute at all is available. For a district the size of South Seneca, staff shortage is always going to be the primary reason for a move to remote learning, and when we reach this level of staff unavailable to report, we can’t operate safely, much less efficiently. We empathize with every family working through cases in the household, and hope anyone who tests positive is able to recover with only mild symptoms. All throughout the fall semester, we have been proud of being able to stay open in-person five days a week, without any building closures. We knew the early part of January was going to be a particular challenge as cases across the region are spiking again, but we intended to continue to operate in-person as long as we could, and we hoped we’d be able to keep the doors open. Already, we’ve received messages pointing out the burden this places on families, and we are very much aware of these, and share the disappointment in needing to shut down temporarily. The surge in new cases is alarming to say the least, and we very much hope it recedes soon. After holding school on Monday to distribute materials and prepare for remote learning, we will be spending this week exploring how we might be able to offer options to families during closure. The week of January 10 could bring adjustments after we work through the details of this week’s closure. Most of all, we are hoping the move to remote learning through the first half of January will allow staff to clear their quarantine periods, recover their health, and that we can remain in-person permanently when we return.
Please be aware that South Seneca has been processing reports of dozens of new COVID cases over the holiday break, and just this weekend we've learned of new cases that will keep a significant number of staff members in quarantine. We will hold a school day Monday January 3 with our early dismissal times of 12:30 in Ovid and 1:30 in Interlaken, as we distribute at-home COVID test kits, and materials for students to prepare for remote learning. South Seneca will move to a fully remote model beginning January 4, through Friday, January 14. Thank you.
Please see details here on the new Test-To-Stay plan being implemented for South Seneca through the Seneca County Health Department.
Happy New Year to the South Seneca Community! As we prepare to re-open our buildings in January, please look for some additions to our strategies to manage the expected surge in new COVID cases after the holidays.
On our last school day before the Christmas break at South Seneca, we have processed reports of two more student positive COVID-19 cases for MSHS students. This brings our total reported cases since school began up to 64, across students and staff. As we reflect on the year so far, we are as confident as ever that our daily protocols are preventing any transmission of the virus in our school buildings. Contact tracing of these 64 cases has yielded important information about the origin of cases, and we still have no evidence that any of these originated in one of our buildings. The positivity rate in the school community, even with underreported numbers of total tests taken, has consistently shown a rate several percentage points below that of the county as a whole. As we move now into a holiday break, we want to acknowledge the tireless work of our school nurses: Liz Borst in the Elementary School, and Ashley Sheldon in the MSHS, who serve as the frontline workers managing school during a pandemic. At South Seneca, we’ve implemented new capacity to conduct COVID testing here on campus—including both rapid Binax and PCR testing—which entails not only secure testing, but also reporting to the NYS Department of Health. Our nurses do all surveillance testing, manage all staff and students with symptoms, communicate with families, and assist in contact tracing, all while still conducting their “regular” school nurse jobs. It is substantially through their efforts that we’ve been able to hold in-person school this year in both buildings with no short-term closings so far. We thank them for the exhausting and comprehensive attention to detail they contribute every day, and often on weekends. With Christmas and New Year’s Day on the way, we wish everyone in the South Seneca community a happy, restful, and healthy break. Seneca County will be hosting another vaccination clinic at our MSHS on December 28, and we anticipate being back for in-person school again on January 3. As always, we rely on the vigilance of everyone in the district for our ability to stay open. Thank you to all for getting through 2021 together, and we are looking forward to 2022! Be well, everyone.
Wishing our entire Falcon Family a Safe and Happy Holiday! ❄️
Good Tidings from our Extended Day Elementary students! 🎄We hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays!
Our Falcons spreading their wings in the snow! ❄️🌲