Richland County school districts monitoring COVID situation
The changes could come daily.
With COVID-19 cases on the increase, in part because of the spread of the delta variant, school districts are constantly monitoring how they handle the situation.
On Wednesday, Lexington Local Schools became the first Richland County district to announce a return to remote learning, for two weeks, from Sept. 7-17.
“It is our hope that the two weeks of remote learning will allow staff, and students, time to recover from any illness so we may continue utilizing our great staff to provide in-person learning, safely transport your students and continue to offer breakfast and lunch,” Lexington Superintendent Jeremy Secrist posted on the district website.
Crestview goes remote for grades 4-12
“We are still asking families to help keep our schools healthy by allowing symptomatic students to stay home. We will work with families and students on make-up work.”
The next day, Crestview announced that it, too, would go to remote learning for the same timespan for grades 4-12.
The lower grades will continue with in-person instruction.
“This decision was made due to two reasons,” Superintendent Jim Grubbs said in a news release. “COVID-19 cases at the elementary building are significantly lower than the other two buildings, and, from experience, elementary students do not do as well with remote learning.”
Two other districts, St. Peter’s and Ontario, are maintaining in-person instruction but are requiring masks for students and staff.
“St. Peter’s will continue with its layered response to the COVID-19 virus. While there are certainly no guarantees with COVID-19, St. Peter’s requirements of face coverings and social distancing when transmission rates are high, give us the best chance of staying safe and staying in school,” Head of School Laurie McKeon said in an email.
Ontario requiring masks at indoor settings
“Recognizing the importance of community safety and in-person instruction, our faculty, staff, students and families appreciate this proactive approach. They have been terrific in following and supporting our protocols.”
Ontario started requiring masks at indoor settings on Wednesday.
“I’m very proud of our students, as approximately 95% of our student body are now wearing masks indoors. All Ontario School employees are wearing masks indoors now as well,” Superintendent Lisa Carmichael said by email.
She encouraged residents to refer to the district website’s COVID page, which contains all up-to-date COVID information, including a cumulative total of positive student cases and positive staff cases.
Stan Jefferson, Mansfield City Schools Superintendent, said Friday afternoon the district would require masks, starting Tuesday, through at least the end of September.
The other districts in Richland County will maintain in-person instruction, at least for the time being.
Seeking to keep kids in classroom
Clear Fork Superintendent Janice Wyckoff issued a letter to the district’s parents on Thursday, saying school officials want to maintain in-person instruction if at all possible.
“We want our students in school. We do NOT want remote learning even for the shortest amount to time for any child,” she wrote. “Why are we sending out this message? Every day this week, we are having one more staff member and/or student test positive for COVID-19.
“Multiple staff members and/or students are being placed in quarantine due to being a direct contact. It will not be long before we are overrun with quarantines like other school districts in the area.”
Quarantine is the separation or restriction of movement of one or more individuals who have come into direct contact with someone who has been medically diagnosed with a communicable or contagious disease.
Wyckoff urged students to get vaccinated and/or wear a mask.
“We want to honor every parent’s beliefs about masking, so we are supporting choice when it comes to masking,” she wrote. “We are asking parents to please consider helping your child stay in school by masking up without a mandate. Let’s work together to keep kids in school and not at home.”
Mansfield Christian Superintendent Cy Smith said the district is holding its own.
“Despite the fact that enrollment is up 30% in the last two years and we have 650 students on campus at various points, our confirmed COVID cases have remained low since school began on Aug. 24,” he wrote in a Wednesday email. “In the elementary school, we have had two confirmed cases and five students have been quarantined. In the junior high and high school, we have had only one confirmed case and eight quarantined. “
Smith continued, “Students only need to quarantine if a family member living in the home has tested positive. Students identified as close contacts at school may quarantine at the parent’s discretion as long as no symptoms are present.”
Madison cancels 2 football games
Lucas, Madison, Plymouth and Shelby districts did not have any mandates as of Friday.
“We are preparing to move to remote learning if that becomes necessary,” Madison Superintendent Rob Peterson said by email.
Madison has canceled its next two football games.
“We are contact tracing when necessary and are recommending that our parents follow the guidelines for quarantine they receive from the Richland Public Health Department,” Plymouth Superintendent Brad Turson said in an email. “This is all subject to change, of course, as we move forward.”
Lucas Superintendent Brad Herman said the district is going five days a week with in-person instruction.
“We all know this is a very fluid situation as things seem to develop quickly, so I stress the right now,” he said in an email.