Clark-Shawnee to close schools for 2 days, require masks for 2 weeks

Clark-Shawnee Local Schools will be the first district in the area to close as a result in the rise of coronavirus cases and quarantines.

The district will be closed for the rest of this week and there will be a two-week temporary mask requirement, Superintendent Brian Kuhn said in a release.

The school board voted Tuesday to close school today and Friday while administrators review the safe return plans and identify how to keep students safely learning in school and to temporarily require masks for 10-days from Sept. 7 to 17 for all staff and students in kindergarten through grade 12.

Kuhn said this decision is to help reduce the number of quarantines at school and that closing schools for two days and requiring masks for two weeks are the best tools to keep students in school.

“A number of our students are currently quarantined from school due to exposure to a person who has COVID-19 in school or school activities. As of today, about 18% of our students are in quarantine and unable to attend school. It’s clear that we are not accomplishing our goal of keeping students learning in-person,” Kuhn said.

Clark-Shawnee reported 14 positive and 111 quarantined cases for the week of Aug. 17-23, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.

“I know that having our students here at school, learning in-person, is best for their educational progress... If we want to keep our kids learning safely together in school as much as possible, we need to look at our options to see what we can do to reduce the number of students unable to attend school due to quarantine,” Kuhn added.

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Since the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are continuously changing, the mask requirement is temporary, Kuhn said in the release. Students and staff do not have to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19 when wearing a mask.

“This decision was not made easily or lightly. Our administration and board members arrived at this decision based on the circumstances we are seeing right now here in our district. It is the most effective way for us to keep your students safely learning together here at school,” Kuhn said.

Julie Blasberg, a parent of a first- and 10th-grader, said she’s fine with the temporary mask requirement.

“I guess I’m OK with the mask for a couple weeks. I’m just concerned it will turn into longer and not sure how much difference it will make,” she said. “The delta variant is very contagious. I just really hope they don’t go virtual again. I do know both my kids have been much happier and doing better in school without the mask.”

Blasberg added that she wishes the district had the ability to rapid test students and staff for COVID. She said her oldest was exposed, but was not notified until four days later.

“I wish the nurse could just rapid test kids who are sick or exposed and do what is needed based on the results. They are quarantining a lot of kids for possible exposure that are not sick and allowing vaccinated kids to stay in school even though you can get it and spread it when vaccinated,” she said. “I’m not sure how hard it would be to rapid test at school, but I think parents would agree to testing rather than having your kid home for 10 to 14 days... If they had the ability to rapid test at school, they could have tested him when they knew he had been exposed and verified he was negative and kept him in school.”

For the temporary mask requirement, masks will not be required while outside during recess or physical education class. Masks will also not be required during athletic and band practices or matches or when eating or drinking, according to the district.

There will be brief mask breaks and extra masks will be available in the office, the release said.

Masks will be required on school buses.

The district will also social distance as much as possible, clean and sanitize throughout the day and after school, maintain seating charts for contact tracing purposes, follow quarantine protocols, collaborate with the CCCHD, and notify families about cases.

The school board will hold a meeting before Sept. 17 to determine the next steps.

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The other 11 school districts in Clark and Champaign County are not requiring masking, except preschool through sixth grade at Springfield City Schools. All schools continue to strongly encourage masks.

Other schools around the region have also closed due to coronavirus cases and quarantines, including Wayne High School in Huber Heights which moved to remote learning for two weeks, Dixie Elementary in New Lebanon closed for two days, and all Lebanon City Schools closed for three days.

Ohio reported 7,102 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including a backlog of 1,021 cases from last month, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

Without the backlogged cases, Ohio recorded 6,081 daily cases. It’s the first time the state has reported more than 6,000 daily cases since January, when the state was beginning to recover from a winter surge.

Clark County had 15,757 cases and 316 deaths of the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, according to ODH. Champaign County had 3,875 cases and 60 deaths.

As of Wednesday, 62,622 vaccination shots have been given in Clark County, according to ODH. Over 46% of the county’s total population has received at least one shot and just over 43% has been fully vaccinated.

In Champaign County, 15,191 vaccination shots have been given, according to ODH. Just over 39% of the county’s total population has received at least one shot and almost 36% has been fully vaccinated.

ExploreBacklog of 1,000 COVID cases included in 7,000 daily cases reported in Ohio

By the numbers

14: Number of positive COVID-19 cases reported in Clark-Shawnee Local Schools Aug.17-23.

111: Number of quarantined cases reported in the district

18: Percentage of Clark-Shawnee students in quarantine as of Wednesday

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