Superintendents discuss school quarantines


Increasing number of students, staff being exposed to virus

By McKenzie Caldwell - mcaldwell@aimmediamidwest.com



As an increasing number of students and staff members are exposed to COVID-19, local school districts face quarantines that, in some cases, have kept many Highland County students at home. Local public superintendents discussed what quarantine looks like for their students.

The following are the COVID-19 statistics for Highland County school districts as well as local superintendents’ updates.

As of Thursday, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) reported a total of 57 cases involving Highland County residents between the ages of 0 and 19. Across all age groups, the ODH reported that Highland County had a total of 542 cumulative cases.

On Wednesday, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner reported the following for local school districts:

* Greenfield Exempted Village School District (GEVSD) had five active student cases.

* Hillsboro City Schools had one active staff case, but reported another student and two employee cases Thursday on its one-call system.

* Hillsboro Christian Academy had one active student case and one active staff case.

* Lynchburg-Clay Local had one active student case and one active staff case.

* Fairfield Local and Bright Local did not have any active cases.

According to the ODH, the following are the total cumulative case count for each Highland County school system:

* Fairfield Local has had one student case and five staff cases.

* Greenfield has had five student cases and three staff case.

* Hillsboro Christian Academy Preschool has had one student case and one staff case. Hillsboro Christian Academy Private School has had one staff case and no reported student cases.

* Lynchburg-Clay has had four student cases and two staff cases.

* Bright Local, the Highland County Board of Developmental Disabilities, St. Mary Catholic, and Stonewall Academy did not have any reported cases, according to the ODH.

Bright Local

At Bright Local, students are provided with lessons through online learning platforms, superintendent Mike Bick said in an email.

“Any time a student is not receiving direct instruction it differs from the classroom environment,” Bick wrote. “Any time a student or staff member is under quarantine impacts instruction.”

According to Bick, the district continues to follow guidelines from the Highland County Health Department to limit close contact between students and between staff members.

These guidelines also include daily temperature screenings, maintaining social distancing, and wearing masks.

Parents and guardians may pick up free meals for their children during the district’s drive-thru-style distribution on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 to 10:45 a.m. Students receive 10 meals each week. For more information contact cafeteria supervisor Debbie Robertson at 937-442-3114.

Fairfield Local

At Fairfield Local, quarantined students take their school-issued Chromebooks and textbooks home to complete work that their teachers assign through Google Classroom, superintendent Tim Dettwiller said in an email.

“Our full remote plan is not implemented for a student in quarantine at this time,” Dettwiller said.

Dettwiller and other Fairfield administrators made the decision to briefly close Fairfield Elementary earlier this month as the number of elementary staff members in quarantine created staffing issues, especially with the countywide shortage of substitute teachers.

“Our goal is to mitigate the spread of the virus and we have actually closed school for a day when we saw a dramatic rise in the number of quarantines occurring,” Dettwiller wrote. “We also have plans in place to move to a blended model or a fully virtual model if needed. Our biggest challenge is acquiring substitutes when multiple staff members are out on quarantine.”

Social distancing presents another challenge for the district.

“We have all students and staff present each day for in-person learning except for those students who have chosen to go with our virtual school option,” Dettwiller wrote. “It is very difficult to ensure six-foot spacing of students and staff in all settings. We stress to our students and staff that wearing a face covering mitigates the risk of contracting the virus while the six-foot distancing mitigates the risk you will be swept up in a quarantine sweep.”

The district requires that students wear face coverings while on the bus as well as in class. Anyone who enters the district’s buildings is also required to wear a face covering.

Students also must submit to temperature screenings when they enter school buildings.

Parents and guardians may request meals for their children by contacting the main office of their children’s building. Reach Fairfield Elementary at 937-780-2988; Fairfield Middle School at 937-780-2977; or Fairfield High School at 937-780-2966.

To view a detailed weekly report of Fairfield’s Covid statistics, visit fairfieldlocal.org.

Greenfield Exempted Village

At GEVSD, teachers post assignments, activities and lessons to Google Classroom, superintendent Quincey Gray told The Times-Gazette.

The district also offers devices and internet support options for families who need them.

“The lessons provided mirror what is going on in the physical classroom as close as possible,” Gray wrote. “Teachers are able to utilize Google Meet and email to communicate with students when support is needed. Students access online enrichment and intervention programs when they are physically at school that they can also access at home.

“I think that our district is constantly evolving to make the experience for quarantined students the best that it can be. Teachers have had to learn about many new teaching tools that allow them to provide education to students virtually. It is definitely a team effort! Seeing our students quarantined and missing school and activities is difficult. Children want to be in school.”

The district and teachers do their best to decrease close contact between students through distancing, but according to Gray, many GEVSD students have been quarantined due to close contact that occurred outside of school.

Gray added that staff members are also expected to practice social distancing from one another, including during lunch periods and meetings.

GEVSD students and staff members must submit to temperature screenings.

“Our district greatly appreciates the help of the Highland County Health Department,” Gray added. “Their team is supportive and always available to answer questions. We also appreciate the support of our parents and guardians. Having students quarantined, or isolated because they have tested positive for Covid-19, is difficult for everyone. As a team, we have to continue to work together to make the best of the situation.”

At this time, Gray said none of the families of quarantined students have requested meals, though she added that could change if quarantine numbers increase.

Reach the GEVSD at 937-981-2152.

Hillsboro City Schools

At Hillsboro City Schools, quarantined students are communicating with their teachers through email and Google Classroom, superintendent Tim Davis said in an email.

Quarantined students can also check out Chromebooks, and parents may make arrangements to pick up their children’s schoolwork when necessary by contacting the district at 937-393-3475.

“Student quarantines have made this year even more challenging because of the amount of time the student will be out of the building. When a student is quarantined they will need work for ten school days,” Davis wrote. “Staff quarantines are also challenging because they cannot be back in the building until their quarantine time is up. So preparing materials for students when the teacher is also quarantined is a challenge and it takes organization on the teacher’s part and help from other staff members to get those materials together.”

Davis said that to limit close contact between both students and staff members, the district is constantly reminding students and staff to maintain social distancing.

Each student and staff member must submit to a temperature screening each morning.

Family members and guardians, as well as neighbors and babysitters, may pick up meals for Hillsboro students.

Students are not required to be present to pick up meals.

To schedule a pick-up time, families should contact food service director Jessica Walker at 937-393-7348.

Lynchburg-Clay Local

At Lynchburg-Clay, quarantined students continue their coursework through Google Classroom or by completing physical copies of assignments, superintendent Brett Justice said in an email.

Justice added that the district provides Chromebooks for students who need them.

“We fully believe that students learn better in the regular classroom setting,” Justice wrote. “Teachers are able to provide immediate feedback to the students when they are in person. Any time a staff member is quarantined, it disrupts the educational flow. Through this pandemic, substitute teachers are not readily available as under normal circumstances. This has created a strain on our staff and building administrators.”

To limit close contact between both students and staff, Justice said the district will continue to follow guidelines from the Highland County Health Department, which include social distancing, face coverings and sanitation.

Lynchburg-Clay students must also submit to temperature screenings when they enter the building.

According to Justice, quarantined and virtual students do not have access to free meals provided through the USDA.

Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.

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Increasing number of students, staff being exposed to virus

By McKenzie Caldwell

mcaldwell@aimmediamidwest.com