CATLIN – All of Salt Fork High School’s students are participating in remote learning for the next two weeks after a few more students tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Westville’s Judith Giacoma Elementary School and Oakwood Grade School also reported one or more positive COVID-19 cases during the weekend. Judith Giacoma Elementary School remains open, while Oakwood Grade School is temporarily closed through Wednesday with all students learning remotely from home.
A week ago 29 Salt Fork students were asked to quarantine for 14 days after possibly coming in contact with three students who are siblings and who tested positive for COVID-19 within the first couple of days of Salt Fork’s schools reopening.
Salt Fork Superintendent Phil Cox said Monday that a decision was made during the weekend to shut down the high school and transition to remote learning after more students tested positive last week.
“Within four days, we had three more test positive at the high school,” Cox said, adding that students did not attend school last Friday due to a teacher professional development day.
“We had a significant number of high school students in quarantine, so we decided to shut it down,” he said. “Since then we’ve had one more case.”
As of Monday, there were four high school students, one junior high student and one elementary student in Salt Fork’s district who tested positive for COVID-19 and are in quarantine.
Salt Fork’s elementary and junior high schools remain open and continue to follow a blended schedule of shortened in-person learning hours followed by an hour or so of remote learning at home to finish class work.
“At the high school, we temporarily transitioned to remote learning starting today,” Cox said. “There was no live instruction today, but teachers sent out information on how Google Classroom works.”
Salt Fork students will return to the high school for in-person instruction Monday, Sept. 14 as long as COVID-19 numbers look good.
“The students will walk through their regular schedule, but it will be live and online,” Cox said. “They’ll be following the same schedule at home that they would if they were in school.
“It will be done virtually, even with three-minute breaks during what would be the passing period,” he added.
Salt Fork’s High School students will be online from 8:15 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. The high school teachers will have remote office hours from 1-3 p.m. and will be available by appointment to virtually meet with students who have questions or need extra help with their class work.
“Teachers will be working from school,” Cox said. “They’re set up in their classroom.”
Since the beginning of school on Aug. 20, 30 Salt Fork students in kindergarten through 12th grade, with 14 of them at the high school, have switched to remote learning from in-person learning.
“Hopefully this will be short-term shutdown,” Cox said.
Oakwood Superintendent Larry Maynard posted on the school district’s website a letter he wrote to parents saying he had been notified that day of an individual or individuals at Oakwood Grade School who had tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 29.
In addition to coordinating efforts with the Vermilion County Health Department to identify and monitor anyone who came in contact with the individual or individuals with COVID-19, Maynard also temporarily closed Oakwood Grade School for three days through Wednesday and switched all students to remote learning.
At registration time, Oakwood families could choose a blended learning experience of in-person and remote learning, with students attending in-person instruction twice a week and remote learning the other three days.
Staff members will continue to report to the grade school for remote instruction unless they are among the staff and students who are identified as having prolonged close contact to the individual or individuals with COVID-19, in which case they will be contacted by the health department and quarantined for 14 days.
The grade school also is being deep cleaned and disinfected during the closure.
Westville school officials sent a text notification the night of Aug. 28 informing parents that an individual at Judith Giacoma Elementary School had tested positive for COVID-19.
The person was quarantined, and school district and health department officials reached out to staff and students who may have been in close contact with the person. An email also was sent to all Judith Giacoma parents with more information.
Judith Giacoma students will continue to attend in-person class five days a week for now.