Elementary School in Niagara Falls closes after COVID case discovered

Contact tracing underway at Maple Avenue Elementary School
Maple Avenue Elementary School
Photo credit Niagara Falls City School District

Niagara Falls, NY (WBEN) - An elementary school in Niagara Falls is closed for at least one day after a positive COVID case was discovered.

Maple Avenue Elementary School is closed Monday after a positive COVID test. Niagara Falls School Superintendent Mark Laurrie told WBEN it was an employee who tested positive. The Niagara County Department of Health is currently conducting contact tracing, and is providing the district with information.

Laurrie said that he will provide daily updates on the situation. Maple Avenue will remain closed until further notice, but Laurrie said that October 8 is the likely date for students to return. Teachers and staff are allowed in the building Monday morning between 8:00 and 10:00 to get materials for remote learning in case an extended closure is necessary.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center will be offering free swab testing to the Maple Avenue community Tuesday from 1pm-4pm.

"Based on the circumstances, and even though masks were worn at all times, there was potential for exposure of over an hour," said Laurrie. "I thought it was best in a small school of 347 students and 39 staff, that it was the best way to keep the school safe."

Right now the district is looking at a possible return to school on October 8th after a quarantine period.

The Niagara County Department of Health began contact tracing on Monday.
Laurrie said it could be extensive, involving 58 people.

Laurrie said the district is expediting the distribution of technology devices Tuesday and Wednesday. "Once we're able to deploy all of those devices, all teachers at the school will be ready to teach remotely."

Regarding the decision to close the school, Laurrie said if the situation only involved one class, or if the exposure was only one day, a different decision would have been made. "But without getting into the confidentiality of what happened, I felt it was best to make sure that everyone is safe," he said.