This is one of a series of stories about how the school year is going at school districts in Ashland County.
JEROMESVILLE -- The Mapleton Local School District has offered in-person education without interruption since the beginning of the school year on Aug. 24 -- one of the earliest first days of school within Ashland County.
Any decision to transition to remote or hybrid learning would be determined by the number of positive cases within the district, the number of students and staff in quarantine and the availability of substitutes. Finding both certified and classified staff is the major factor, according to Superintendent Scott Smith.
But such a decision has yet to be made.
To date, the district has recorded a total of six COVID-19 cases -- four in students and two in staff members. The district's COVID-19 dashboard currently shows no active cases, but 33 students and 1 staff member are quarantined.
"Our relatively low number of positive cases at Mapleton, I believe, is a testament to the collective resolve of our students, parents, staff, administration and Board of Education to implement the safe and responsible plan," Smith said.
Over the summer and into the school year, Mapleton Local School District collaborated with University Hospitals, PSI Solutions, the Ashland County Health Department and other Ashland County school districts to develop its approach to this unique school year.
"I believe we’re having a great school year considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic," Smith said.
He considers the school nurse Tanya Blough and the administrative team to be critical components in allowing the district to maintain in-person learning. The team is responsible for assessing potential COVID-19 cases or exposure on and off the Mapleton campus. They make decisions on who needs to quarantine based on potential exposure to a positive COVID-19 case.
Smith added that he's been pleased with how students and staff have self-monitored symptoms and remained home when not feeling well.
"We all get tired of the temperature checks, wearing masks, physical distancing and all of the other COVID-19 safety protocols, but we keep doing these things in order to stay with in-person learning as long as possible," Smith said.
The district also hopes to continue with music concerts, theater production, club activities and athletic events for the entire school year.
Perhaps the most significant change to the 2020-21 school year at the Mapleton School District calendar comes in the form of regularly scheduled remote learning days. These days were built into the calendar so teachers could "plan, pilot and prepare" to potential additional remote learning due to COVID-19, Smith explained. These days have typically been scheduled on Mondays.
The district intends to approach holidays "normally." The district has no intentions to transition to remote learning around the holidays at this time.
"Some families are making adjustments to their travel plans. Students and staff will need to self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from a travel advisory state," Smith said.