Local school temporarily closes after social distancing concerns

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JASPER, NY (WETM) – When you go to the Jasper- Troupsburg Central School District website, you are immediately greeted with an important message, that school is closed.

The schools opened last week, but only a few days in, the county received an anonymous tip concerning social distancing in the classroom. After consulting with Steuben County Officials, the school chose to put a pause on in-class teaching, according to Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler.

“Obviously, when we get a complaint we have to do our due diligence to really determine what’s going on and also to work with the schools to solve it,” said Wheeler. “It’s not an adversarial relationship at all, it’s really just trying to figure out the best way forward.”

WETM reached out to Jasper-Troupsburg Central School District, but they were unavailable for comments. The message on their website said:

Important Message

  • School is closed on Monday, Sept. 14th
    Out of an abundance of caution, the Steuben County Department of Health has decided to re-evaluate the usage of desk barriers in lieu of masking or a requirement of a minimum of 6 feet social distancing. If what has been previously allowed is no longer acceptable, we will need everyone to wear a mask, even when sitting behind a desk barrier, unless a minimum of 6 feet social distancing can be accomplished, in all classrooms until further notice.
    As we await their review and final decision in this matter, the Jasper-Troupsburg CSD will close tomorrow to appropriately plan for what steps may be required next.
    Therefore, only administrators, supervisors, and teachers will report to work tomorrow, September 14th. Students and 10-month support staff members will not report to school or work tomorrow.
    If the decision we receive from the Steuben County Department of Health disallows the usage of a desk barrier without a mask or without a minimum of 6 feet of social distancing, we will communicate that decision to all stakeholders and families. We will also communicate any changes in practices and protocols due to that decision, should it be necessary, as well as any potential changes in how we provide in-person, hybrid, or fully virtual instruction in the future.
    We thank everyone in advance for their cooperation and understanding in this ever changing era.

Wheeler says the decision to stop in-person learning was not made by the county.

“I want to make it clear that Steuben County did not close the school, the school made a decision to close and it was more of a matter of trying to get their arms around protocols and the guidelines from New York State,” said Wheeler.

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