Area schools close amid spike in COVID among students

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Schools in Huber Heights, Lebanon and New Lebanon have all shut down temporarily.

Three local school districts have shut down or moved to remote learning and others are considering mask rule changes due to soaring COVID-19 cases among students.

Wayne High School, Dixie Elementary in New Lebanon, and all Lebanon City Schools will shut down or switch to remote learning temporarily.

After starting the year with no mask mandate, Wayne High School will move to remote learning starting today through Sept. 14 due to an “overwhelming” spike in COVID-19 cases, the district said.

According to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard, 64 students in Huber Heights schools have contracted COVID-19, over half of whom attend Wayne. In the district, 337 students, including 167 high school students, are under quarantine.

The number of current COVID-19 cases among students is nearly three times the number of student cases from Nov. 1 to Nov. 13 of 2020, the highest previous recorded number in the district, Superintendent Mario Basora wrote in a letter to parents Monday.

A representative of the district declined to comment further, but the letter indicates the school will continue without mandating masks for students. Rather, the district will consider hiring additional staff for contact tracing, quarantine notifications and recordkeeping to the tune of $500,000 annually.

Basora said in the parent letter the district would also “pleadingly ask” that students who are willing and able to mask and get vaccinated.

ExploreWhich public schools are requiring students to wear masks?

“If we can get students and staff to wear masks starting now, and those eligible to get vaccines as soon as possible, we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and continue to operate in-person for grades PreK-8,” Basora said. “Additional actions that will be taken if the spread does not slow include moving the entire district to 100% remote learning for a minimum of two weeks.”

Huber Heights began the academic year with full in-person instruction, with no remote learning or hybrid learning option. The district has no mask requirement for students or staff. Unvaccinated individuals would be “informed of current CDC recommendations,” but not required to wear a mask, per the district’s website.

Huber Heights estimates that between 10 and 20% of students are wearing masks and about 38% of students eligible for vaccination are vaccinated.

New Lebanon schools

New Lebanon Local Schools closed Dixie Elementary Tuesday and today due to COVID-19, saying the closure would allow for additional cleaning of school facilities, and allow ill students to rest.

“In our message to parents, we did note that we are continuing to monitor the circumstances at Dixie Elementary School and that an extension of the closure is possible,” Superintendent Greg Williams said.

In total, the district reported nine students COVID-19 cases among Dixie elementary, middle and high schools last week, with 39 students quarantined, and four positive cases among staff.

Lebanon schools

Lebanon City Schools will close for three days starting today, citing a 20% absence rate among students due to illness. More than 900 students were out of school Monday due to COVID-19 and quarantine protocols, Superintendent Isaac Seevers said.

“As of Monday, the district had 80 positive COVID-19 cases,” he said. “The COVID positive cases has gone up over the last four days. With the amount of absences, we cannot effectively educate students.”

When school resumes on Tuesday, most of the students will have completed being in quarantine and can return to classes.

Lebanon began the school year with masks recommended. However, the district will require masks for all students for three weeks when school returns to in-person learning. The district would re-evaluate that policy after those three weeks, Seevers said.

Other districts consider changes

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek schools have reported 29 cases of COVID-19 among students, with 241 students subject to quarantine. The district does not require masks except on public transportation.

Other local districts have updated COVID-19 protocols. Xenia schools have mandated masks for K-5 students, and encouraged students who are able to to get vaccinated, effective Aug. 30. The school also cancelled last Friday’s football game against Troy due to quarantines in the opposing school district. Xenia has reported 32 active COVID cases among students and staff, according to the district dashboard.

Fairborn City Schools has 34 active cases district-wide. Masks are required for all staff and students. A representative for FCS said the district is not planning on closing or going remote, but that plan “could change in a day.”

Beavercreek City Schools has 58 positive COVID-19 cases among students and 10 among staff district-wide. Ferguson Hall reported the largest number at 19 positive cases.

The district announced Tuesday that it would require masks for all students and staff. The district began the school year with masks required only for K-6 students and staff, and optional for grades seven through 12.

“To ensure we are continuing to achieve our goal of continued safe in-person instruction, it has been determined that our best approach, at this time, is to require masks for all PreK-12 students, staff and visitors inside all district buildings,” Superintendent Paul Otten said.

Ohio reports 5,914 cases

Ohio reported more than 5,900 daily cases of coronavirus Tuesday, the most amount of cases reported in the last three weeks.

In the last day, the state recorded 5,914 cases, according to the Ohio Department of Health. It’s the third time more than 5,000 daily cases have been reported in Ohio this month with 5,395 cases reported on Thursday and 5,204 cases reported Saturday.

The state is averaging 3,570 cases a day in the last three weeks. Four weeks ago, on Aug. 3, Ohio’s 21 day average was at 855 cases a day.

As of Tuesday, ODH reported 2,468 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals and 716 patients in ICUs.

About 9% of the state’s hospital beds and 14.9% of ICU beds are occupied by COVID patients. Ohio has 23.4% of hospital beds and 23.96% of ICU beds available.

In the last day, Ohio has recorded 318 hospitalizations, surpassing the 300 mark for the first time in three weeks.

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