Centerville schools’ remote-only class switch follows ‘out of control’ COVID cases

Centerville City Schools last month returned to in-person instruction. CONTRIBUTED
Centerville City Schools last month returned to in-person instruction. CONTRIBUTED

CENTERVILLE — Students in Centerville City Schools will return Monday to fully-remote classes after rising COVID-19 cases one official called “out of control.”

Centerville announced Tuesday it plans to stop in-person instruction — joining several other area districts shifting plans — following a week in which a third of coronavirus cases since mid-August were reported in the district.

Centerville has been holding face-to-face instruction four days a week since mid-October. This Friday will be the final day until at least Jan. 15, according to the district.

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“A big challenge for us and all schools has been the number of students and staff members going in and out of quarantine” which “affects our ability to staff our school buildings,” Superintendent Tom Henderson said in announcing the change in a pre-recorded message.

“Every day we are working extremely hard to find adequate staffing. We are being as creative as possible,” he added.

But “on a daily basis we need to fill more than 100 positions” with substitute teachers and support staff, Henderson said. “It is becoming increasingly difficult.”

Forty-one coronavirus cases were reported between students and staff last week, including 12 at Centerville High School and eight at Watts Middle School, the district’s website states.

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In that same time period, 172 quarantines — 108 from exposure outside the Centerville district — were reported.

Also last week, the need for substitutes across Montgomery County’s second largest school district -which has about 8,000 students and more than 1,000 staff - averaged more than 90 a day, Henderson told board of education members Monday night.

He said that number jumped to 113 last Friday, the same day the district posted on its website a need for substitute teachers, aides, bus drivers, custodians and kitchen workers.

This past Monday, 99 subs were needed and from Saturday through Monday, more than 114 students were quarantined, Henderson said.

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Board member David Roer noted the increasing cases, saying “the numbers are out of control right now.”

Since Aug. 17, the district has reported 120 positive cases and 829 quarantines, records show. But board President John Doll said recent data — including a staff survey that “really hit home to me” — were too much to ignore.

Other districts in the county have made similar moves.

Last week, the Bellbrook, Miami East and West Carrollton school districts, plus Carroll High School, all announced they would move to hybrid schedules.

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Earlier this month, Huber Heights, Trotwood and West Carrollton made the decision to shift to fully-remote learning.

Miamisburg High School moved from in-person to a hybrid schedule. Vandalia-Butler has moved from in-person to fully online this week and next, but plans to return to in-person after the Thanksgiving break.

In Centerville, a “COVID outbreak” in the transportation department Oct. 26 nearly caused the district not to open, Henderson said.

However, Miamisburg officials were able to help out and — among Centerville staff — “about everybody that could drive was driving that week,” he added.

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