(Posted Oct. 21, 2020)
By Josephine Birdsell, Staff Writer
Officials at Madison-Plains Local Schools announced that the district will continue to hold in-person classes five days a week, despite a “red” high-risk rating for Madison County as designated by the Ohio Public Health Advisory System.
A red rating for the county suggests that residents are at high risk of exposure to and spread of the coronavirus. The county has seen over 1,000 COVID-19 cases.
Chad Eisler, district superintendent, said at the school board’s Oct. 20 meeting that he expects the county to remain at a high-risk level in the coming weeks, as other counties with high case levels tend to stay in high-risk status for upwards of a month at a time.
“When the county went red … I sent out communication to our families, and I said that if we were red for two weeks in a row, we would have to take a look at potentially going hybrid,” Eisler said.
The school district has had five cases of COVID-19 since the school year began. However, district officials say there is no evidence to suggest the five cases are linked to one another, suggesting that the virus was brought in from the surrounding community and did not spread within the schools.
With no evidence of sustained spread within the district, the Madison-Plains leadership decided to continue classes fully in-person five days a week.
“I believe for most students, and ‘most’ is the key word, being in school five days a week with teachers and other students is the best way to learn,” Eisler said.
In-person schooling better allows teachers to provide students with social and emotional support, he continued. Roughly 40 percent of students in the district also rely on in-person schooling for meals they may not receive elsewhere. Parents depend on the school to take care of their children so they can go to work and provide for their children, Eisler said.
“Health and safety is obviously our number one job,” but the district has a lot to consider, he added.