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Beaver Local stays on even keel

CALCUTTA — So far, so good for the Beaver Local school district.

Superintendent Eric Lowe reported at Monday’s school board meeting the first week of school in the coronavirus pandemic has gone smoothly, all things considered.

“Students are doing a great job wearing face coverings. That’s a non-issue,” and staff has adjusted well too, he told the board.

Student desks have plastic shields on them and social distancing is practiced as much as possible. Using multiple entrances and exits has resulted in less congregating as students and enter and leave the school complex, reducing the chance of prolonged exposure.

For the morning drop-off and afternoon pickup, which Lowe described as “huge,” they use two different areas and that has helped with traffic congestion. Approximately 78 percent of Beaver Local’s 1,756 students opted to return to the classroom, about 60 percent of whom are being brought to and from school by their parents, grandparents or someone else.

Lowe said classroom instruction is going well, and 22 percent of parents opted to have their child remain home and learn remotely using the online curriculum. The last hour of the day has been set aside for teachers to work with their online students. Some teachers are also giving online students the option of live-streaming classroom instruction via Zoom, and teachers are also posting at least one instructional video per week for online students.

Ten to 15 students who started the year online at home changed their mind after less than a week and have been allowed to return to the classroom despite pledging to stick it out for the first nine weeks. “I imagine it probably because it’s not what they thought it would be,” Lowe said.

Inspectors from the Ohio High School Athletic Association were at Beaver Local’s Sept. 10 home football game against Indian Creek to determine how well the district was complying with coronavirus safety protocols for athletes as well as fans. Lowe said Beaver Local received a passing grade in all 39 categories. He said OHSAA officials were especially pleased with the number of posted signs and reminder announcements made during the course of the game

“There has been a lot of work and preparation to ensure that we provide the safest venue that we possibly can for our athletes and our fans,” Lowe said. “We appreciate the hard work of all our staff and students to be able to have a successful opening of sports and schools.”

Despite their best efforts, Lowe warned the board every school district is eventually going to have some staff and students test positive for the virus.

“I don’t want to mislead anyone. There will be cases,” he said.

As an example, he cited what happened in the Carrollton school district last week, where six staff and 14 students have either tested positive or awaiting test results. News reports did not indicate whether anyone was hospitalized as a result.

Carroll County health officials estimated this resulted in up to 150 other students and staff being exposed and needing quarantined for two weeks. The school district decided to cancel in-school classes this week, with all students learning from home. Sports and other after-school activities will continue.

Lowe said the health officials estimate for each positive case in school, 10 more people are exposed and need quarantined. The key is to limit direct contact within the six-foot social distancing guidelines to no more than 15 minutes.

“We keep stressing that to our staff,” he said.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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