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Salem schools not panicking at threat of red

SALEM — If Columbiana County hits red due to COVID-19 incidence levels, that doesn’t mean Salem city schools will go all remote for students and staff.

Salem Superintendent Sean Kirkland made the announcement during the school board meeting Monday, saying he wanted to address some misinformation and assumptions being made by the public.

“I don’t want people thinking that if we go red, kids are coming home,” he said.

Columbiana County is currently at the orange alert level, with nearby Mahoning, Stark, Portage and Summit all red. A red level means very high exposure and spread.

Kirkland explained that a lot of discussion would take place with the health department on where the increased numbers are occurring. If the higher numbers are occurring in nursing homes or another part of the county, that wouldn’t necessarily have an affect on Salem schools.

Any decision on going all remote would involve a recommendation by health officials. He doesn’t see that happening, noting that to date since the first day of school on Sept. 7, only two Salem students have tested positive for confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one of those was a remote learner. Countywide, to his knowledge, there have only been five positive cases out of what he estimated at 10,000 for the number of students total in county schools.

He said what that tells him is the virus doesn’t seem to impact kids the way it does adults.

As of Monday, there were zero active cases in the Salem school district and he said no staff members have tested positive for the virus.

“It’s not running rampant,” he said.

Kirkland complimented the contact tracing being performed by the city health district and how they look at mask wearing, who a person has been around and the accumulation of time a person may have spent around an infected person.

He knows from personal experience because his wife, Cindy, tested positive for COVID-19 last month, putting the family under quarantine. His just ended last Wednesday. Neither Kirkland nor his son tested positive, which was another rumor he wanted to quell. He never had COVID-19 and his wife only had mild symptoms, including a headache and loss of her sense of smell and taste. He said she’s ok now with no lingering issues.

Kirkland thanked everyone who sent cards and letters and offered well-wishes for her recovery and for the good health of the family.

He said he keeps tabs on the countywide numbers through weekly meetings of superintendents in the county and the county health department and city health department.

For anyone who wants to keep track of what’s happening in the Salem school district with COVID-19, visit the website at salemquakers.k12.oh.us and click on the icon for COVID-19. There’s a running cumulative total of confirmed cases since the first day of school, along with information for staying safe.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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