ASHLAND -- The Ashland City School District has offered in-person learning for the duration of the 2020-21 school year.
A few months in, Superintendent Doug Marrah is pleased with how the school year has progressed, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We’ve had this model where we haven’t seen community spread in our buildings," Marrah said. "One of the things is our students wearing masks effectively, not crowding hallways ... and all the cleaning is as important too as everything the adults and students are doing. That’s been effective for us."
The Ashland City School District has currently recorded 28 total cases of COVID-19 in students and staff since Sept. 11. Twenty-three of these individuals have recovered, leaving five active cases.
During this time, 434 individuals have been quarantined. Of those, 113 remain in quarantine, according to the district's COVID-19 dashboard.
When someone is tested positive for COVID-19, the district follows measures detailed in its School Restart Protocol. The document has been updated throughout the school year as new information comes along.
"We take everything we learn and keep making it better. We do get great information from the health department, the city of Ashland, Mark Rafeld of the EMA," Marrah said.
Students in direct contact to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 might join then participate in the Ohio Schools COVID-19 Evaluation, which includes regular COVID-19 testing. A sample group of students who have not been directly exposed to COVID-19 are participating in the evaluation, too.
Marrah expressed intentions to speak more in detail of the OSCE at the upcoming Monday evening school board meeting.
"We’ve had a great start in terms of student behavior. That’s why we still are here (in-person) today because it has been so effective," Marrah said. "It has been all hands on deck. Everyone has been working together."
He highlighted efforts to communicate procedures effectively and explain the definitions like the difference between isolation and quarantine.
As the holidays approach, he encourages families to be careful.
"We continue to have conversations reiterating how important it is to be smart about continuing safe practices, continuing to wash your hands often, wearing your mask and being very positive, reliable citizens," Marrah said.
At the beginning of the school year, about 20 to 25 percent of Ashland City School District students opted to use remote learning instead of attending school in-person. Some students have returned to in-person learning since then.
"Over and over and over again, we hear how much they appreciate the option of being back at school," Marrah said. "I think that we can’t undervalue the human interaction, the social interactions that students have at school."