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EL schools return to mask mandate as COVID cases rise

EAST LIVERPOOL — Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases within the district, East Liverpool schools Superintendent Jonathan Ludwig announced that the mask mandate is back in place.

“We have seen a significant increase in positive cases, since our Thanksgiving break,” he explained in a letter posted Friday to the district’s website and social media pages. Citing the district’s 18 new cases last week, “We continue to use aggressive mitigation strategies throughout our building, such as handwashing efforts, social distancing and use of common sense. We appreciate your cooperation and continued support.”

Back on Oct. 27, when Ludwig told the community that they were lifting the mandate except on school buses, they had seen the number of cases plummet to five. This was nearly a month after East Liverpool had 38 cases during the week of Sept. 19-25.

According to the district’s cumulative running COVID totals per building, East Liverpool High School has had the most cases with 78, including 69 students. North Elementary School is second ranked with 40 totals, including three staff members.

During a school board meeting earlier this fall, East Liverpool school board president Matt Handley defended the district’s position, citing that when the district had 39 COVID-positive cases, it resulted in the quarantine of 115 healthy children from in-class learning.

COVID-19 testing locations include East Liverpool City Hospital (330-385-7200), East Liverpool Community Health Center (330-386-7777), and Rite Aid East Liverpool by appointment only through its website, www.riteaid.com. There is no charge for testing subjects age 4 and older.

“While we understand that parents have very strong feelings on both sides of the mask issues, it has been our priority to keep kids safe and in school,” explained Ludwig. “We make decisions based on the latest medical data and guidance that is available. It is our goal to provide the most effective learning environment possible, which we strongly believe is in-person instruction.”

He concluded, “We will actively monitor cases and inform our community of any changes to our policies. We thank our families, students and staff for their cooperation and understanding.”

sujhelyi@reviewonline.com

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