Online-only learning possible as COVID cases rise

Staff report

     The Monticello Community School District has implemented new face covering rules as of Monday, Nov. 2.

     Due to new CDC guidelines and spikes in COVID-19 cases in Jones County, the district is requiring all students in preschool through 12th grade and staff wear either a face mask of a two-ply gaiter. All gaiters must be inspected by a school nurse. Superintendent Brian Jaeger, in his Friday, Oct. 30 video, said this measure is to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone.

     “Our nurses will let you know if it’s an acceptable gaiter for our buildings,” he said. “This should create a safer environment for what we’re striving for moving forward.”

     The district currently has 27 students and staff in isolation, meaning they tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing symptoms. This is an increase from 14 the week prior.

     There are 101 under quarantine. The week before, the district had 41. Quarantine means they were exposed to someone who has the virus.

     “Twenty percent of our staff in the elementary are in isolation or under quarantine,” noted Jeager. “It’s very hard to educate our kids when we have so many staff members out. These numbers are starting to creep up on us.”

     The district’s online learning numbers have been remaining the same week to week around 210.

     “That’s stayed relatively consistent,” said Jaeger.

     In a phone call with Jones County Public Health on Friday morning, Oct. 30, Jaeger was told the following data:

     • Six positive cases reported on Monday, Oct. 26

     • Six positive cases reported on Tuesday, Oct. 27

     • 16 positive cases reported on Wednesday, Oct. 28

     • 44 positive cases reported on Thursday, Oct. 29

     “Today, by the time of my phone call at 10 a.m.,” he said, “30 people had already tested positive. You can imagine with most of the day left, that number is going to continue to climb.”

     The county has a positivity rate of 15.6 percent. The MCSD’s rate is 3 percent.

     “Those are only those students who are in isolation or showing symptoms of COVID-19,” Jaeger clarified.

     With numbers continuing to increase, Jaeger said the school district (students, staff, and parents) needs to be prepared to switch to online learning for a certain period of time.

     “These numbers are not high enough to be able to switch for a two-week period of time. And believe me, that’s not my first choice,” he said. “But if the numbers continue to grow in the wrong direction, we could switch for a temporary period of time and try and create some space between our students and staff and stop the spread as much as we can within the schools.”


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