Due to increased positive cases of COVID, students at Marietta High School transitioned to distance learning as of Friday, November 13. The change only effects high school students, who will return to in-person learning on Monday, November 30, after Thanksgiving break. Other sites will continue in-person learning and buses will run as scheduled.
When the decision was made to transition, the high school had ten positive student cases and 116 students quarantined, with several more students waiting on test results and more contact tracing left to do.
The middle school had fewer positive cases, and although there were approximately 100 students quarantined, many of those are due back at school on Monday, November 16, so the decision was made to keep them in school. As of Friday, November 13, the elementary and primary schools reported five positive cases including students and staff and 68 quarantined.
“What we’re seeing right now is that COVID is affecting high school-aged students in greater numbers,” said Superintendent Brandi Naylor, “probably because they tend to be more mobile.”
Many high school students can drive. Additionally they participate in more activities and socialize outside of school more than younger students do. Many of them also have jobs that could lead to increased exposure.
“The most difficult part we’ve found is that the symptoms can be so mild in kids and teenagers that they don’t realize they are sick and continue to attend school, thus potentially spreading the virus to their friends and classmates and causing mass quarantines,” Naylor remarked.
Naylor went on to explain that the school frequently hears from positive cases that they thought they only had allergies or a stomach bug and don’t usually suspect COVID until they experience more severe symptoms, which means that many of the positive cases are spreading the virus before they’re aware they have it.
“Fortunately, most of our students have bounced back fairly quickly with little difficulty in shaking the symptoms,” she explained. “Our staff is another story. Generally, they’re far more seriously affected than our kids are. Although some feel better in a matter of days, unfortunately some of them have been very sick for weeks at a time.”
For the time being, the school is not eliminating activities, but is moving to stricter protocols that will limit attendance to allow for better social distancing.
“Practices and games are a day-to-day decision with many factors that must be considered,” Naylor stated. “Before choosing to hold an event or to cancel or postpone one, we look at the type of contest, personnel available, the effect of cancellations on the participants, and the effect of cancellations on the remainder of the season,” Naylor remarked. “We know these activities are important to our students and their parents, but at the same time we feel our responsibility to keep our students safe.”
Naylor said that making these decisions is tough for administrators because no matter what they decide, they do it knowing they can’t possibly please everyone.
“The safety of our students and staff is our number one priority and we are monitoring cases closely. We are grateful for the support of our school community in this unprecedented time.”