• Last modified 1030 days ago (Aug. 25, 2021)


Grade school hit, but no remote classes

Staff writer

Classes continue in person at Marion Elementary, albeit with some changes for one grade level, after a student tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Principal Justin Wasmuth declined to say what grade the student was in but did say all parents of children in that grade and of other children who had close contact with the student because of activities had been advised over the weekend.

Students in the affected grade can stay home or they can come to school with guidelines, he said. They can mask up or be tested every other day before they come into the school.

What they don’t have as an option is attending class remotely.

“The state said not to offer it,” Wasmuth said.

According to Department of Education spokesman Denise Taylor, a recently passed law limits what schools can do in regard to remote learning.

Schools cannot offer more than a total of 40 hours of remote learning unless the school district temporarily suspends that limit because of an emergency.

Testing is done outside the building, Wasmuth said.

Testing also is available for parents who want it.

On the first two days of school last week, some students did come to school wearing masks.

In activities that bring together children of different grades, such as lunch, music, physical education, and recess, students are being spaced out and assigning seats.

“In music, they try to be six feet apart if possible,” he said. “If is not possible, we try to space out as much as we can.”

Classroom desks are at least three feet apart, Wasmuth said.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends schools maintain at least three feet of distance within classrooms.

Plexiglas guards are in place in a computer laboratory and are available for desks if a student or parents want them.

“So far, not many have wanted them,” he said. “We are more diligent with the cleaning.”

Parents’ reactions to the news of the positive COVID test were mostly supportive, Wasmuth said. In a small district, conversations are easier to have, he said.

Although elementary schools can do a better job of keeping students in place than can middle schools or high school, elementary schools also have no students who are vaccinated.

Vaccines is not available for children younger than 12.

Wasmuth said the district’s pediatrician thought a vaccine for youths younger than 12 might be available as early as November.

He said he did not know whether the district had developed a plan to administer vaccines to students when they are available.

Superintendent Aaron Homburg said when a vaccine for children younger than 12 becomes available, the district will probably let parents know when and where the vaccine was available.

The district had one COVID diagnosis in the middle school, Homburg said.

One set of parents decided before enrollment to transfer their child to a district that always offers virtual classes, he said.

“That’s what I told parents in the past — that’s your decision whether to keep them home,” he said.

Teachers and staff have an option whether to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated, but all staff members — vaccinated or not — who have close contact with an infected student are required to wear a mask.

CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

The student’s positive test came at a time the county’s number of positive tests is more than double the number at this time last year.

Hillsboro superintendent Max Heinrichs said four students were out on quarantine Monday because their parents had COVID, but no students were diagnosed with it at the time.

“They all had it before the school year started, so they have not been in the school,” he said of the four students in quarantine.

Mark Crawford, Goessel superintendent, said so far the coast was clear at that school.

The district is maintaining social distancing, hand washing, cleaning, and using sanitizer.

“About half of our school is masked,” Crawford said.

Peabody superintendent Antoinette Root and Centre superintendent Larry Geist could not be reached for comment.

Last modified Aug. 25, 2021