Rising cases of COVID-19 resulted in North Central Local Schools going to remote learning this week, the second district in Williams County to do so since the 2020-21 school year began this fall.
The decision to go remote was announced in a letter posted online Saturday, which stated the district had two additional positive COVID-19 cases between Friday night and Saturday.
According to the COVID-19 reporting chart on the district’s website, there have been a total of 14 students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year. Four cases were reported on Sunday and Superintendent Bill Hanak said they had four reported Monday.
“A lot of times, the positive cases cause a lot of contact tracing; contact tracing are the people who are affected based on being within six feet for 15 minutes in a cumulative 24 hours,” Hanak said. “People are tested positive and we’re tracing and a bunch of people (are) being quarantined.”
He said 25 staff members are either quarantined or have tested positive and more than 160 students are quarantined, not counting the number of kids whose parents decided not to send them to school.
Remote learning started Monday and continues through the week. All next week will be the Thanksgiving break with in-person learning expected to resume on Dec. 1.
North Central is the second Williams County school district to temporarily shut down due to the ongoing pandemic. In late October, Edgerton made the decision to go to remote learning after six positive cases resulted in 120 students, five staff and five aides going into quarantine.
Hanak said the move would be helpful to “tamp down” on the cases.
“We’re just trying to make sure we look at the safety of our students and staff in our community,” he said. “Hopefully, this five-day remote learning will solve our problem come Dec. 1. In theory, we would have plenty of days for people to get healthy and be quarantined and be over quarantine if everyone does what they are supposed to.”
During these two weeks, Hanak said they will be cleaning and sanitizing, adding that teaching staff will still be in the school for remote learning.
Once in-school learning returns, he said it will be important to make sure people have masks on all the time and that people are washing their hands.
“We have to make sure we’re keeping as much distance as we can; I’m talking about the staff, too,” Hanak said. “At lunch, for example, you can’t sit next to each other, we have to stay apart or else this thing is going to get way worse. I mean for the whole county.”
Hanak said he has never seen a situation like this before, and, “I don’t want to see it anymore.”
With five days off, the school will be handing out breakfasts and lunches for any enrolled student. The meals must be pre-ordered by noon today by calling 419-737-2392, ext. 5216, according to the district’s website.
The meals will include five breakfasts and five lunches. Students who live in town will need to pick them up at the north parking lot off Baubice Street from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The pick-up will be contact-free, according to the website. Students who live outside of the village will have their meals delivered.
“It’s no fun, I tell you, it’s very stressful,” Hanak said. “The staff is doing everything they can in their power to make sure kids are educated this week. I don’t wish this upon anybody.”
Mark Rairigh, superintendent of Bryan City Schools, said the district has five active COVID-19 cases in students, which is only 0.2% of the population. There are no active staff cases and there are a few test results they are waiting for.
However, around 10% of the student population, 195 students, were in quarantine due to the virus. Around half of those students will return to class this week, if they are asymptomatic.
“We are, at this time, continuing to operate with our in-person learning,” Rairigh said. “We understand the spread of the virus is strong across the city of Bryan, across the county.”
Despite the strong spread of the virus in the community, they are finding minimal spread within the school district, as most positive cases were tracked to an outside function.
To combat COVID-19, he said they are wearing masks and stressing the need to keep distant and wash hands.
“Both the students and the staff are doing a really nice job following those guidelines; I’d like to thank them for their efforts,” Rairigh said. “They understand that remaining in school is a community effort at this point.”
In case of a need to go to remote learning, he said staff have practiced remote learning strategies and techniques with the students.
Each student is able to take a Chromebook home.
“Our goal is to ensure our students are comfortable learning remotely if we ever have to enter into that style of education,” Rairigh said.
Edon Northwest Local Schools has reported nine student cases and three staff cases of COVID-19 through Nov. 13.
Millcreek-West Unity Local School has reported 16 cases between staff and students through Nov. 13 with six reported recovered while Edgerton Local Schools has reported 23 total positive cases of COVID-19 with 17 recovered.
Montpelier has reported a total of 10 cases as of Nov. 10. Updated information will not be reported until Tuesday.
Stryker Local Schools has reported two cases to the state, as of Thursday. The latest information found on its website was a notification for a positive COVID-19 case on Oct. 27.