The Thanksgiving break could turn into a long absence from attending classes in person for students at Avon Lake High School and Troy Intermediate School.
Due to increased cases of coronavirus among students as well as problems getting enough teachers into classrooms, Superintendent Bob Scott closed Troy beginning Nov. 16 and the high school the following day.
Students in both schools switched to all remote learning and will continue in that mode at least until Monday, when students would normally return from their brief Thanksgiving vacation.
No other school buildings in the district were affected.
“We are of course hoping it’s temporary,” Scott said. “It really comes down to our ability to staff the buildings and to slow the spread amongst the students. We don’t want to take any chances of someone catching the virus because we come back too soon.”
Reopening the buildings is Scott’s call to make, just as it was his decision to shutter them. Students can still pick up lunches at the buildings. Sports and other extracurricular activities will continue throughout the district, Scott said.
As of Nov. 17, the district had 12 infected staff members and 17 infected students. But Scott added the district began counting COVID-19 cases Oct. 21, when the first positive cases were confirmed.
Starting Nov. 15, the high school has experienced a significant jump in the number of COVID cases, when 12 students tested positive. The worst day was Nov. 16, when six high school students tested positive.
“We had to stop and take a break because the worst thing we could do is let the numbers spiral up,” Scott said. “We’re not necessarily seeing any spread inside the schools, but we can’t let that happen.”
There does not appear to be any connection between the dozen students who became ill.
“We try to keep the numbers in context,” Scott said, noting that over 3,000 students are enrolled in Avon Lake City Schools. A total of 17 cases is a small percentage of those students and Scott notes in-person classes began Aug. 31.
The student population at Avon Lake High School is 1,291. There are 591 students at Troy.
Positive tests are not the only things affecting the number of teachers available throughout the district. Staff are required to quarantine when people they encounter inside or outside the schools test positive.
“We have to be able to put teachers in the classroom and when you can’t do that then obviously you can’t keep schools open,” Scott said.
He also said closing the two buildings, especially the high school, freed teachers to fill classrooms in other buildings.
Scott said he couldn’t give many details regarding the seriousness of the cases among staff. He did say the cases were mostly mild and no staff was hospitalized. He declined to give any information regarding student illnesses.
The superintendent admitted to some level of frustration with the continuing pandemic.
“Well, I think it’s just like everybody else, everybody is frustrated,” Scott said. “You know we want to balance what’s best for the kids and staff all the time… We really appreciate everybody being patient, the students, the staff, the community. We also appreciate all their help. You know we’ve been working very hard at this since August.”
He described as amazing the fact the district has reached the middle of November and most district buildings still are open.
The district maintains what it calls a COVID-19 dashboard on its website, avonlakecityschools.org. The dashboard keeps track of coronavirus cases among district students and staff. From the homepage click “COVID-19” in the banner at the top of the page, then click on the dashboard.
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