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School Officials Talk COVID Case Counts

Dr. Kevin Whitaker, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, speaks about changes to the district’s COVID-19 policies on Tuesday.

Dr. Kevin Whitaker, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent, has seen the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Chautauqua County.

He isn’t recommending any changes for the city school district — yet.

“I know that people have seen the recent increase in COVID cases in the county and that is definitely something that we are keeping an eye on as well,” Whitaker said in a video posted to the district’s website Tuesday evening.

“As I have mentioned before our goal is to keep kids in school full-time for as long as possible because we know that is the best possible case for them. So we have no reason to change now. However we are keeping an eye on things.”

Whitaker directed parents and community members to a newly updated Frequently Asked Questions page on the district’s website at jpsny.org that has more information about how the district is handling COVID-19 precautions. Among the items discussed in the newly updated guidance is how the district is handling positive COVID cases for sports and extracurricular activities.

COVID cases involving activities that happen outside of school are handled differently than in-school cases, with the county Health Department taking the lead to verify whether or not members of a team or activity are vaccinated. Asymptomatic, vaccinated students are able to return to school and activities once they are cleared by the Health Department, but that process is taking some time to complete. Until vaccination status is confirmed, the entire team or activity is sidelined.

“We are working with them in order to help them process this information faster so the students, especially those who are vaccinated, can return to school faster,” Whitaker said. “We have asked them to allow our school personnel to provide proof of student vaccinations, so that they can return rapidly. They’re still working on this and I wanted to make sure everyone was aware in case you didn’t know this about sports and extracurricular activities so you can make the choice to vaccinate or not depending on what your personal choice is.”

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