Niagara Falls schools superintendent Mark Laurrie Monday told WIVB-TV that about 61 people may have come into contact with a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 at Maple Avenue School in the Falls. That’s why he decided to close the school and have its students move to remote learning.

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“The fact that it was a wider breadth of potential contacts, even though everyone was masked, and the fact that I’m really comfortable with where we are in terms of remote learning, it made the decision to err on the side of caution a lot easier,” Laurrie said. “That may not be the decision in the next case or another district, but it was the best decision for our district based on the circumstances we had,” he added.

Laurrie was informed on Sunday that the staff member at Maple Avenue Elementary School had tested positive for COVID-19. One hundred students at Maple Ave. had already been learning remotely. There are 126 students in the “Blue group”, who report to school on Mondays and Tuesdays, The school also has 39 staff members. Laurrie is concerned some of those who were in school with the Blue group may have come into contact with the infected staff member.

The Niagara County Department of Health is responsible for the contact tracing and the Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton has already issued 14-day quarantine orders to those potentially exposed.

“We see that quarantining has worked,” Stapleton said. “We had a couple of people last week, they were quarantined because they were in contact with a positive (person). They turned positive during their quarantine.”

A testing clinic has been organized by the school district and Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center in the Maple Avenue school’s parking lot on Tuesday September 29th from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.

Students needing to pick up materials from the school can do so on Tuesday, September 29th as well.

October 8th is the earliest students will be allowed back into the classroom for in-person instruction according to the Superintendent.

Note:  Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark Laurrie will be our guest this Sunday morning October 4th at 6 am on "Issues and Views" on 96.1 The Breeze.