The Northern Westchester Examiner

Peekskill Schools Shift to Virtual Learning Through 2021 as COVID-19 Cases Surge

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With elected officials warning Peekskill is on track to be labeled an orange or red zone as COVID-19 case rapidly rise, the Peekskill City School District has opted to close and go fully remote through the new year.

In a letter to the community Wednesday night, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Mauricio announced all students will transition to full virtual learning starting Monday through January 4, explaining the district felt it necessary to act quickly to ensure the safety and health of all.

“In uncertain times, it is important that we continue to focus on positives and embrace opportunities with gratitude,” Mauricio said. “After meeting with multiple stakeholders, including elected officials, Department of Health leaders, our District Physician, our administrative team and our Board of Education, Peekskill City Schools must now act in the best interest of our students and staff.

He added a strong possibility the district could extend virtual learning through January 19, depending on the data and zone designation. Currently, Peekskill is labeled a yellow zone due to its high COVID-19 infection rates.

The designation, which was made last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is part of a three-tier, color-coded system that tracks the infection rate per municipality. To mitigate any micro-clusters, the label applies more stringent restrictions on gatherings, activities, businesses, and schools, in addition to the current mandates in place.

To be classified as a yellow zone, the lowest of the three-tier system, an area would need a 7-day rolling average positivity rate above 2.5% for 10 days and the addition of 10 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on a 7-day average.

Current restrictions force schools to test 20 percent of students and staff within the district to remain open for in-person learning. An increase to an orange zone would force the district to go fully remote until the infection rate is lowered.

Despite the decision to go remote, Mauricio said Wednesday’s Grab & Go meal pick-up and delivery will continue.

Mauricio urged everyone to do their part to ensure the district can soon resume in-person learning, noting that the actions of a community can slow the spread of the virus. He added the decisions made over the holiday season will certainly determine what happens as we head into the new year.

“As the Governor has stated, there is no predetermined result for our situation as we move forward, and what happens over the next few weeks will be a result of our own actions,” Mauricio said. “I urge everyone to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and socially distancing as much as possible.”

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