In a letter released to parents on October 8, Brandi Naylor, Superintendent of Marietta Public Schools, announced that due to district staff members testing positive for COVID-19 and several others quarantined, the school will transition to distance learning until Thursday, October 22, when in-person classes are scheduled to resume.
“Closing the district is always a difficult decision, but when the quarantined/sick/waiting for results list of staff members quickly grew to 15 yesterday afternoon, it became very clear that we would not have enough staff or substitutes to cover all of them for the next two weeks of their quarantine periods,” Naylor explained. “Our subs are limited on any given school day, but numbers like these would be overwhelming, especially during a time when we really do not want to combine groups of students more than we absolutely have to.”
As of Monday, October 12, there were five staff members who tested positive and 17 under quarantine.
“I’m so proud of our staff and how they were ready to make the switch at a moment’s notice,” remarked Naylor, “and if we had to close, this was a good time for it. With Fall Break scheduled, assuming we return on the 22nd as planned, we will only have missed six days of in-person classes, which we won’t have to make up because we are delivering instruction via distance.”
Although the district does have several staff members and students who are quarantining, the number of positive cases is relatively small in comparison to the total number of students and staff, which is close to 1,200.
“We do have some students, along with our football team and coaches who are quarantined,” Naylor said, “but the quarantined staff members were what forced this closure.”
Unlike the shutdown that Oklahoma’s public schools experienced at the beginning of the pandemic, all students will be transitioned to distance learning, and all students must complete assignments to receive credit.
“Distance learning is something we have planned for since last spring and students have been practicing accessing and using the distance learning platforms in class since the beginning of school in August,” added Naylor. “Most of our students who need devices have been given a Chromebook and we've provided hotspots for at home internet service as well for families in need. We also have wi-fi capability in our parking lots that students can access from their vehicle at any time.”
Teachers have been working with students to make the changeover as smooth as possible, and in the days to come, each site/class will send out information to guide students and parents with the switch to virtual learning.
“All staff who are not quarantined will be on campus facilitating distance learning during this time,” said Naylor, “so parents can call or email if they have questions or concerns related to distance learning.”
Meals will continue to be distributed in a drive through at the cafeteria from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each school day.
Extracurricular activities not impacted by quarantine will be allowed to continue. To date, the district has cancelled football games from October 9 through October 23. The season is scheduled to resume with the Indians hosting Davis at home on October 30.