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Covid safety procedures being prioritized at Beaver Local

CALCUTTA — COVID-19 cases are up from last year within the district despite the best efforts of the administration, staff and students of Beaver Local.

Superintendent Eric Lowe reported to the school board during their Monday night meeting that there have been 22 positive cases since the first day of school less than three weeks ago. Lowe said the district has several safety procedures in place such as frequent hand washing, frequent sanitizing of public spaces, one-way hallways and social distancing, and they are still being prioritized. The district is working with the Columbiana County Health Department to follow a plan that works for their school community.

Beaver Local “strongly recommends” face coverings but has joined all other Columbiana County schools in not making them mandatory. Lowe said wearing a mask allows a student or staff member to continue in-person instruction even after a positive exposure and a large number of students and staff members have chosen to wear a mask despite the lack of mandate.

Lowe expects the number to continue to increase as the year progresses and believes that the increase from last year is largely due to activities outside of school.

“I think the difference between last year and this year is that people are living life outside of school, the world was pretty much shut down this time last year–you couldn’t go to events, you couldn’t go to concerts,” Lowe said.

Seventeen percent of students were absent from school on Monday according to Lowe, but only 44 students were absent due to a COVID-19 related circumstance. As absences increase and students are missing school and activities, Lowe said the district faces the challenge of supporting the students and families.

“We’re trying to support families and students beyond the disease itself as to what we can do to help them move ahead,” Lowe said. “Extracurricular opportunities, things kids look forward to, when you take those away, there are mental health pieces that go along with that. We struggle as adults to understand what’s happening, so kids that don’t have those life experiences that we have are struggling even more to understand what’s happening.”

Lowe asks that any sick student or staff stay home even if they feel well enough to “power through.” A stuffy nose or a sore throat is enough to warrant an absence according to Lowe.

The district plans to monitor the situation closely and continue with its course of action in order to keep kids healthy and in school. He understands the frustration that parents and students are feeling but is thankful for their support and cooperation.

“We are doing everything we can to give us a fighting chance,” Lowe said.

lnickel@mojonews.com

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