A student in the Odessa-Montour school district has been exposed to coronavirus, reports The Odessa File. The classmates and teacher at Hanlon elementary have been notified and will have to quarantine and temporarily take classes remotely. It is uncertain whether or not the exposed student has tested positive for COVID yet. More than 600 out of 700 students in the district are currently taking classes in person.

Looking at the local COVID-19 caseload, the latest numbers, released Monday from the Tompkins County health department, indicate that there are 2 additional positives and 7 new recoveries, in addition to 7 new cases and 31 recoveries over the weekend. According to the County Health Department, that brings the active COVID caseload to 50 in Tompkins.

In Schuyler County, there is 1 new case of COVID-19 reported as of Monday, according to their Health Department. 4 active cases remain.

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In more education news, there are uncertainties about the Ithaca City School District’s reopening plan, including possible staffing cuts. Ithaca Voice explains that there are three plans for reopening ICSD. The district’s current plan is to allow students to choose to attend virtual or in person classes. The second option is a hybrid model, where elementary school students would attend in person for half of the week and secondary students would remain online. The third plan is that all classes would be completely online. 

Only 32 percent of ICSD teachers said they would feel comfortable teaching in person, but about 60 percent of students are opting to attend in person classes. The district is engaging with the Ithaca Teachers Association to convenience more teachers to hold class in person because there are not enough willing to do so, compared to the amount of students wanting to attend in person classes. 

New York State is currently withholding 20 percent of its funding to local school districts because of COVID-19, which is about $6 million for ICSD. This means that even if classes are taught in person, there could be staffing cuts in any department. It is not known if and where those cuts would be. ICSD is slated to potentially begin in-person classes on October 5.

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Cinemapolis and other art house cinemas in New York state have penned a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, petitioning to reopen movie theaters safely. Ithaca Times reports that movie theatres were supposed to reopen in New York during Phase 4 of reopening, but were taken off the list a few days before Phase 4 began.

Cuomo stated that movie theatres are “less essential” and pose a “higher risk” than other businesses reopened in Phase 4, such as casinos, malls and gyms. However, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance says that independent, non-profit theaters are important to local communities.

The cinemas wanting to reopen agreed to abide by the National Association of Theatre Owners’ CinemaSafe protocols, as well as creating other rules, like temporarily eliminating concession sales where indoor dining is not allowed.

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Six weeks after the federal unemployment benefit of $600 ran out, this week, over 2 million New Yorkers can begin to benefit from an additional $300 in weekly benefits.

The Times Union reports that the additional $300 will cover the weeks ending August 2, 9 and 16. New Yorkers could get further benefits if funding for the program lasts. The additional unemployment benefits are funded by FEMA money that’s been allocated for disaster relief, as part of an executive order signed by the President in early August. 

According to the state department of labor, throughout the six months of the pandemic, New York has allocated $43.7 billion in unemployment benefits to 3.5 million state residents. The US Congress is yet to reach a deal on the latest covid-19 relief package, which could extend the federal pandemic unemployment benefit.

New Yorkers who may be eligible for the new unemployment program might need to submit an additional certification. More information at dol.ny.gov.

Contributing writing by WRFI News Intern Tessie Devlin