Northwestern schools shift to virtual learning due to COVID-19 absences, quarantines

Northwestern Local Schools will shift to virtual learning through the end of November, with the exception of preschool and a few teachers’ classrooms due to the increase of the coronavirus, the district’s superintendent said.

“Northwestern schools will have classes virtually for the Northwestern campus students from now until we return from Thanksgiving break on Nov. 30,” Superintendent Jesse Steiner said. “We do have some exceptions. The preschool classes will continue to meet in person, as well as the classrooms of Mrs. Cahoon, Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Garrison.”

Steiner said the transportation department will be contacting parents of preschoolers to confirm pick-up and drop-off times, and the three teachers will also be in contact with parents to give them more information on what class will look like.

The district is moving to virtual learning for several reasons, including staff absences and an increase in quarantines, Steiner said.

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“The staff absences have been unpredictable and have been moving and fluctuating from minute to minute,” Steiner said. “By defining this longer period of virtual learning, this will achieve several things. It will allow our parents to do a better job or be able to plan better for how their student will be able to complete the virtual learning. It also gives our staff a little time to get healthy so that we’re not seeing as many absences.”

Steiner added that the absences are a combination of COVID-related issues and other illnesses and life issues. He said that there is an increase in COVID-related absences as well as an increase in staff and students who are being quarantined.

“By taking the next two weeks to learn virtually and then with the week off at Thanksgiving break, that gives us three weeks for us to get COVID back under control in our district, get our district healthy again and then get back to class on Monday, Nov. 30,” he said.

Steiner said for families who want updated case information about COVID-19, can visit the district’s website to see the dashboard.

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“We’re not going to hide any cases of COVID, or quarantines related to COVID, it’s not what would be best for our kids. What’s best for our kids is for them to be here at school and the only way we do that is if we can identify where COVID is, isolate it and keep it out of the schools,” Steiner said.

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard for the week starting Nov. 9, there arethree confirmed and 31 quarantined cases at the elementary, and one confirmed and 21 quarantined cases at the Jr./Sr. High School.

The district is also pausing all athletic events and practices until Nov. 30 due to the increase of quarantines.

Steiner said they are seeing a large number of adults who are spreading the virus, not students at the school, so he is reminding the community to continue to practice all safety protocols such as wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, not congregating and staying home if you feel any symptoms.

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