North Country school districts react to closure order

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Peru Central School District superintendent Dr. Thomas Palmer surveyed district employees about re-opening for classes in two weeks. Until Friday, that was what K-12 schools in New York were scheduled to do.

Thursday was the deadline to reply to the survey, and 258 staff members responded. “People said they would come back if they had to, but there was still a trepidation and uncertainty of what was going on with the future,” Dr. Palmer said.

Even without Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s extension, Palmer said most of the Peru employees who were already staying home would have continued to do so if given the choice.

“It’s 64 or 68 cases (of COVID-19) up here in the North Country, so we did not hit that level yet that they did downstate, but it could still spike on us, so people are being very cautious and making sure they’re doing the things they need to do under the governor’s Pause Act.”

Palmer is glad to have some additional clarity now that the governor’s New York On Pause executive order has been extended. “I was hoping the government would make a decision either way so that we’d have a really clear understanding of the work ahead of us that we were going to have to do to get our school ready to come back, or to plan for the fall,” he said.

Crown Point Central School District superintendent Shari Brannock was not available Friday for an interview. However, their district has just done a community-wide survey about the prospect of re-opening in mid-May. If Gov. Cuomo had required Crown Point to re-open but had not required the same of all schools statewide, slightly more than half of those who responded said they would not have sent their children to school.

More than 200 people in Crown Point took park in that survey. Nearly 70% of them were parents, but school district employees also formed a decent portion of the respondents. The deadline to reply was noon Friday — which was shortly after the governor extended the school closure.

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