Oregon schools saw uptick in COVID-19 after holidays

Kelly J. Kaczala

           Four percent of staff and 2.34 percent of students in the Oregon school district have either been sick with COVID-19 or under quarantine protocols following the holidays, Superintendent Hal Gregory said at a school board meeting on Jan. 11.
        “Those numbers are low, but we certainly had an uptick,” said Gregory.
        “It seems to be from that two week period following the holidays that we’re seeing it with our staff in particular. We need to encourage our substitutes to work with us. We’ve been a little short at Clay High School where it seems to have hit us the hardest,” he said.
        “Our Clay Wrestling team was hit pretty hard,” said Gregory, As a result, it was decided to shut down wrestling for two weeks until Jan. 25.
        “We had a good majority of students who were either tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19. It just got to the point where we had 60 percent of our team out, it’s time to shut it down. We will not be holding our Maumee Bay Classic, which was scaled down from 40 teams to six. It was scheduled, but that’s not going to obviously happen because of our situation. There was a lot of disappointment, but we had to do it during this tough time,” he said.
        “We’ve had a lot of sick folks, but our staff is rebounding. They all go through different stages. I’ve heard of some with more severe cases than what I heard of in the past, but they’re all pulling through and doing well,” he said.
        Gregory also gave an update on the availability of the vaccine.
        “Starting Feb. 1, the governor has made it very clear he’s going to allow educators to begin to receive vaccinations across the state.”
        Over eighty percent of the staff stated they want to get vaccinated, he said.
        “I feel confident that the vast majority of our staff is willing to get vaccinated. Right now, the Lucas County Health Department is using the Moderna vaccine, not Pfizer, The Moderna vaccine can be stored in a typical refrigeration process rather than the minus 95 degrees required for Pfizer.  So hospitals are dealing more with the Pfizer vaccines, and the health department is dealing with the Moderna vaccines. After you get the first shot, there is a 28-day gap before you get the second shot.  We’ll have probably 500 individuals getting vaccinated just in our district alone. That includes substitutes and coaches and five school board members, if they want it.”
Students return
        Starting Jan. 10, grades K through 6 returned to the school buildings four days per week. Grades 7 through 12 are following a hybrid plan, he said.
        “Smooth sailing so far,” he said. “Knock on wood. I’m very proud of everyone. Teachers and kids are happy to be back. We intend to stay with our plan. We have no dates or timelines set. The next possible change will be going from four days to five days for K through 6 grades. The reason we went to four days was to give teachers that Wednesday to work with quarantine kids because our quarantine numbers were so high.”
        Gregory said the hybrid model is unlikely to change anytime soon.
        “I don’t want to say indefinitely. But it seems like the third quarter, we’ll be hybrid for sure. If we were to get everyone vaccinated by mid-March, the start of the fourth quarter, then we may be able to go back to five days per week. I don’t want to raise hopes that we’re going to be doing that anytime quickly. We’re going to stay hybrid. We know we can get distance with kids and we know we can keep them safe.”


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