Concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 have led Nettle Creek schools to adjust its academic and extra-curricular schedules for the next two weeks.
Hagerstown Elementary and Hagerstown Junior-Senior High students will have an eLearning day on Monday, Oct. 26.
On Tuesday, Oct. 27, junior-senior high school students will completely switch to virtual learning for two weeks, through Nov. 6, while elementary school students will attend school in person.
However, all extra-curricular activities will be suspended until Nov. 9.
The absence of staff and students because of COVID-19 related quarantines — either by testing or by exposure — at the junior-senior high school contributed to the decision, Superintendent Kyle Barrentine said Saturday.
In a letter to parents, students and staff, Barrentine said having an eLearning day on Monday will allow for deep cleaning of the school buildings and buses and will allow the district to complete contact tracing.
“In a small school, if two or three staff test positive or have close contact (with a person with COVID-19) … it can touch so many kids,” Barrentine said Saturday.
He wouldn’t speculate on the number of staff and students affected.
The elementary school is able to be fully staffed and will remain in session, although the COVID-19 will situation will be monitored, he said.
“This is a proactive step. We’ll see what happens,” Barrentine said.
Barrentine said the situation will be evaluated at the end of the two weeks, with the expectation that all students will return to in-person classes Nov. 9.
“This isn’t a school problem,” he continued.
Barrentine said Nettle Creek students are following all the safety protocols at school, but student, family and community behavior outside school is making an impact — echoing the message recently put forth by Wayne County Health Department officials.
“We hope to stop the spread within the school community,” he said.
“We’re not the only school or the last school to deal with this. I think it will all be OK,” Barrentine said.
Junior-senior high school students should report to classes online Tuesday and follow the guidance of their teachers throughout the school day, which should be near normal in length.
Take-home breakfast and lunch meals for students will be distributed 5-6 p.m. Wednesdays Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 at the elementary school.
– By Rachel Sheeley