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CNY School Districts Closely Monitor COVID Rates, Aim To Keep Kids In Classrooms

The Central Square School district is among dozens of others closely monitoring the changing COVID situation ahead of the holiday break next week. Neighboring Oswego City schools will switch to remote learning tomorrow due to teacher and bus driver shortages. Central Square Superintendent Tom Colabufo says right now, they’re not seeing those shortages, but they do have a plan in place to get students to school if they lose drivers to COVID illness or quarantine.

"There may be three bus runs, and it would be a staggered start. The kids would get picked up immediately after the first bus run is done. We're very hopeful we will not have to go to full remote like we had to last year because of the plans we have in place, but that could change depending on the number of drivers."

Colabufo says he and his assistant have even earned their certificates to be occasional drivers of a large SUV to pick up handfuls of students in order to free up a bus driver. He says they’ve also taken very proactive testing measures to monitor infections and avoid unnecessary quarantines.

"If a staff member or student is experiencing any COVID symptoms, we have thousands of rapid tests. As long as the parent approved, and an overwhelming number of parents have approved of this, kids are able to come in, take a 15 minute test with a nurse, and we're able to get them back to class. That's been a godsend for our bus drivers."

To clarify, students and staff would stay in school only if they test negative. Colabufo says they even offer testing every other Sunday.

Over in Baldwinsville, Superintendent Jason Thomson says in an email to WAER News that they plan to remain in person unless the number of COVID cases dictates the need to switch to virtual learning. He says they’re constantly monitoring COVID cases, and are working hard to preserve a safe, healthy in person learning environment. The Liverpool Central School District also plans to remain open in person. In an email to WAER News, Superintendent Mark Potter says the district is struggling with staff shortages some days but, they have no intentions of switching to remote learning. Professional staff development activities during the school day have been cancelled until further notice to alleviate any staff shortages. Potter also says everyone continues to be masked and positive cases and quarantines continue to be down significantly compared to this same time last year. However, he adds there appears to be fluctuations in the amount of COVID-19 household contacts in the district which has impact some students' ability to attend school in-person.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at
John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.