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School staff prepares for COVID shots

CALCUTTA — The vaccination of school staff in Columbiana County for the COVID-19 virus could begin Feb. 1, according to Beaver Local Superintendent Eric Lowe

Speaking at Monday’s school board meeting, Lowe said Gov. Mike DeWine announced last week the state plans to begin vaccinating school staffs starting Feb. 1, “and (DeWine) felt confident that everyone in schools by March 1 should have their first vaccination.”

Lowe said studies have shown there is a 52 percent immunity from the first vaccination, and schools are currently working with the county health department on plans to administer the booster shots. Beaver Local teachers and other staff are in the process of being surveyed to determine who wants the vaccine when the time comes.

In other COVID-19 news, Lowe noted the state is no longer requiring students or staff exposed to a student with the virus in a classroom setting to quarantine if masks and social distancing protocol were followed.

Prior to this change, the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention recommended the quarantine protocol be followed if someone was within six feet of a person who had COVID-19 for a combined 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

The change was based on a study of Ohio schools that found there was no discernible difference in the incidence rates between exposed and unexposed students. “In our experience this year it mirrors what they are saying,” Lowe said.

The change is expected to reduce the need to quarantine significantly, thereby increasing the chances school districts can continue with in-person learning as much as possible.

The time for quarantines was also reduced to 10 days if you have no symptoms. The quarantine for sports participants remains 14 days.

Beaver Local, like most districts in the county, is set to return to in-person learning on Jan. 19 after switching to all online learning from home during the first two weeks of 2021 as a precaution against any additional exposure that may have occurred over Christmas break. The only other time the district went all-remote was over Thanksgiving break.

“We appreciate all our staff, their hard work, and feel that that’s why we’ve been able to maintain our in-person learning” for the most part, Lowe said.

“When we’ve gone remote it’s actually been our choice to do that” and not because of any significant increase in cases,” he added.

In preparation for going all remote, the district distributed 150 e-notebooks to students who lacked the appropriate electronic device needed to work from home, with most going to students in K-5. Internet service still remains a problem for some.

“There’s no way to fix some areas of our district (because of the hilly terrain) … They just don’t have access to good WiFi,” he said.

In other business, board member John Campbell was named board president for the year, replacing Greg Eisenhart.

The board also kept the same meeting schedule for 2021: 7 p.m. the second Monday of every month.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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