The number of COVID-19 cases in Highland County schools continues to increase. On Thursday, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner announced that he was closing the health department to the public so that other staff members could assist with contact tracing.
“We have some additional long term care and school cases that have come in and I am moving staff over to help the nurses,” Warner wrote in a post to the Highland County Health Department’s Facebook page.
On Wednesday, the Highland County Health Department reported the following on the number of active cases in local school districts:
* Fairfield Local School District has four cases involving staff.
* Greenfield Exempted Village School District has two cases involving staff and two involving students.
* Lynchburg-Clay Local School District has one case involving staff and two involving students.
Warner stated that these numbers have been reported to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) but may take some time to reflect on ODH’s website due to a delay in the reporting process.
During the Bright Local Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, superintendent Mike Bick reported that, though the district had not had any students or staff members test positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, four students and two staff members are in quarantine awaiting test results.
As of Thursday, ODH reported that Bright Local, the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Hillsboro Christian Academy, Hillsboro City Schools, St. Mary Catholic, and Stonewall Academy have had no reported COVID-19 cases involving students or staff members.
Last week, Warner reported that the health department was tracing several clusters of COVID-19 exposure in the community. Among these clusters were three confirmed cases involving Lynchburg-Clay students and one confirmed case involving a Fairfield student.
According to Warner, 59 members of the Lynchburg-Clay School District, including a sports team, and 30 members of the Fairfield School District, including school bus students, were in quarantine as of Friday.
In a Facebook post to the Highland County Health Department’s page, Warner encouraged community members to stay home when they are sick as many of the new cases involve people who attended events, worked, visited friends and participated in other “normal” activities while they felt sick.
“Please, if you are sick, stay home!” Warner wrote. “Another frustrating thing that has been reported to the health department is that several people who are quarantined have not been following quarantine orders. Please, if you have been placed in quarantine, stay home. I know it is inconvenient, but we are asking you to make a personal sacrifice in order to protect the health of our community.”
According to ODH, which reported 351 overall cases throughout the county as of Thursday, there have been 36 cumulative cases involving Highland County residents between the ages of 0 and 19, one of whom was hospitalized.
For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.
In other COVID-19 news, the USDA announced on Oct. 9 that it is extending flexibilities that provide students with free breakfast and lunch through June 30, 2021.
All students, including those completing schoolwork through virtual learning platforms, benefit from the program.
Those flexibilities allow meals to be served in all areas at no cost and outside of the typically required group settings and meal times, waive meal pattern requirements as necessary, and allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children, according to the news release.
“These program flexibilities allow schools and local program operators to operate a meal service model that best meets their community’s unique needs, while keeping kids and staff safe,” the USDA said in the press release.
The USDA previously offered the flexibilities through Dec. 31, 2020, when it estimated that funding from Congress for the program would be depleted.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.