Yates County schools re-enter remote learning

John Christensen
The Chronicle-Express

Penn Yan and Dundee schools to be in distance learning mode until at least Jan. 19

Penn Yan Central School Superintendent Howard Dennis announced Jan. 5 that the district would be re-entering remote learning due to the post holiday increase in COVID-19 cases.

"The issues that are associated with COVID-19 have continued to be a challenge," said Dennis in a letter to district parents. "Over the last two days, the District has seen a drastic increase in the number of students and staff that have tested positive, are displaying possible COVID symptoms, have been exposed to someone who has, and/or have been placed in mandatory quarantine.

"After careful consultation with the Yates County Public Health Department, due to these rising numbers we are going to pivot to distance learning 2.0 until January 19th starting tomorrow January 6th."

Penn Yan Central School Superintendent Howard Dennis

Dundee Central School Superintendent Kelly Houck made a similar announcement Dec. 31 via Facebook live with the same end date of Jan. 19. Since then, several Dundee faculty, staff, and students have tested positive, but during the holidays and with distance learning, no further quarantine was required.

Dennis had hoped the cases in Penn Yan could be contained, with the stated goal, "to continue to keep students in school for learning as long as it is safe to do so." But by Jan. 5, that safety could no longer be assured.

"This decision is being made out of an abundance of caution and with the health, safety, and welfare of our students and staff in mind," said Dennis. "We understand that this puts increased stress on families and that this will inconvenience many individuals. We have worked very hard to keep our students here in school and do not make this decision lightly. We appreciate your cooperation and the success we have had with being able to keep students in person for learning throughout the first part of the year.

"Please continue to follow all CDC guidelines to protect everyone from the spread of the disease. The actions we take over the next week and a half will help us get back to our in person model that has been so successful."

Houck echoed Dennis' urging to school families and staff: "Any positive cases can cause a sense of anxiety, we can expect that it won't be our last, however, if we continue to practice proper hand hygiene, physical distancing and wearing face coverings, we will minimize risk of spread and exposure. Safeguarding the health and safety of our schools is our highest priority. Please continue to practice these safety precautions with fidelity so we can reduce the chance of infection to others."

Dundee Central School Superintendent Kelly Houck

Meal distribution locations

Meals will be available Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the following locations:

PYE bus loop, 9-11 a.m.

Benton: Fire Department parking lot, 11 a.m. to noon

Bellona: Fire Department parking lot: 11 a.m. to noon

Dresden: Fire Department parking lot, 11 a.m. to noon

Branchport: Fire Department parking lot, 11 a.m. to noon

Milo: Windmill parking lot, 11 a.m. to noon

Each family will receive two breakfasts and lunches per child. There is no need to pre-register for meals.