March 15, 2020
Students, Parents/Guardians, Community Members,,
We are currently experiencing a world pandemic. We need to react quickly and swiftly to minimize the impact that the COVID-19 Corona Virus is having on our communities. This need is causing much anxiety and many uncertainties. As a school and a community we will continue to work together executing sound decisions and mentally and physically prepare for next steps to reduce the impact of this virus. We must be patient and trust in a process that is timely and considerate of every need that we encounter. Our priorities continue to be health and safety, providing food and other necessities for living, and instruction and technology.
Yesterday the 18 superintendents in SLL BOCES, along with the entire BOCES administrative team, met with Dana McGuire (Director of Public Health) and Dr. Williams (physician and chair of St. Lawrence Health Systems Emergency Response Team). We also met with Dana McGuire on March 11th, but this meeting was much different. There have been no confirmed cases in St. Lawrence County, but they are certain the virus is here. They also shared their capacity for volume and severity of illness. If the North Country experiences an exponential growth of illness (which has occurred in every other country), the hospitals will not be able to support the sick. They simply don't have the capacity.

Dr. Williams then shared the graphs that we've all seen detailing the effects of social isolation. Norwood Norfolk Superintendent and Lisbon Central Graduate, Jamie Cruikshank found an excellent article with interactive maps that does a great job explaining this. It's from the Washington Post: Why Outbreaks Like Corona Spread Exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve”. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/?fbclid=IwAR3-6YxM9gG3iS-TfJs2y2VDnjsY-UKjb23uG_XkkbNO2fNxNMQLwzvendg )If we can put into practice social isolation, then we may have a chance to mitigate the impact of this virus. If we wait until the virus takes hold, then it will be too late.

In analyzing all these factors, the St. Lawrence County Department of Health (SCL DOH) recommended a school closing. After much discussion, we decided to immediately enact this measure for a minimum of five weeks. Other groups from around the state were meeting simultaneously - much to the same conclusion.

Essential staff will be in the district Monday through Wednesday to work out logistics and continue to give a complete cleaning to assist with disinfecting the building. The instructional staff should be considering all options to provide instructional experiences where students will still get an educational experience that continues to provide support and practice for instructional skills and promotes enrichment. Thankfully we have an approximate count of devices and technological needs for all of our students as a result of a survey that was completed this past Friday. Instruction may take many forms with the major tool being technology. We will be able to work with students and support their needs with technology moving into the following week.

We will be preparing a plan to feed all students in the community as well as a plan to distribute technology and other school related items to any student who is in need. Food and other deliveries or pick-up options will come available March 23rd. At this time if you need to retrieve something in the building please contact the school at 315-393-4951 ext. 23185. This will be permitted on a case by case basis. If you have medications in the building that you need for your child we will make arrangements to pick this up as well. If anyone has a question that they would like to ask please complete this form: QUESTION FORM regarding school closure due to COVID-19 (https://forms.gle/E6xN9Y6ZZ8DPDQtB6)
To date all activities related to school or held within the confines of the school district are cancelled unless special exceptions are made based on recommended guidelines from the NYS DOH. We anticipate clear directives from the SLC DOH on these types of events moving forward. After a department of health assessment of the situation the district will be directed on next steps which could include additional closure time.
Thank you to all of the individuals and organizations for wanting to provide assistance in any way possible. We will continue to reach out and respond to these entities as needed to meet the needs of our students and the community. Updates for our community will be via our website and Facebook page. The One-Call Now system will be used for announcements requiring immediate notification.
In the meantime remember to follow the recommended guidelines to minimize the impact that the Corona Virus is having on our school and community.
Recommended Guidelines Aside from Social Distancing:
Frequent hand-washing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay home when you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then discard it in the trash
Lisbon is an amazing community and I am certain that we will continue to rally around those in need and I look forward to the successes that we will share as we combat this virus. Take care of each other and make sure that you are considering texting, messaging, or calling someone that you may feel is in need. We will get through this pandemic together.
Patrick J. Farrand