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COVID-19 closes Beallsville school building

K-12 students shift to remote learning today

BEALLSVILLE — Students in class at Beallsville will shift to remote learning, effective today, after a COVID-19 case connected with the school was confirmed by the Monroe County Health Department late Tuesday.

High School Principal Casey Tolzda informed families of students about the decision after the health department did its contact tracing, determining the number of people who would need to quarantine because of coming in contact with the infected person.

“We notified those who needed to quarantine through a special letter, keeping confidential the person who had a positive case, and then we sent a general letter to the entire student body,” Tolzda said.

Because of the structure of the K-12 Beallsville school building and the large amount of interaction between the junior and senior high schools as well as the elementary portion of the building, officials determined they needed to quarantine the entire campus.

“We felt with the high number of people who need to quarantine that it was in the best interest to kind of quarantine the whole school,” Tolzda said. “We have crossover in our building for lunches and use a lot of the same facilities. There’s just a lot of intertwining to our school and since they are so connected, we felt it was best to shut down.”

Those who were in direct contact with the infected person will be required to quarantine for 14 days and the Monroe County Health Department will be doing checks with them, according to Tolzda.

While the physical building is shut down, learning will continue through a remote platform, similar to how the school year finished all across Ohio.

“All of our students have a Chromebook and we’re prepared for this because we knew this could happen at any time,” Tolzda offered. “Our students and staff have done a great job of preparing for this, and we had systems in place because we learned a lot from (the end of) last year to be ready for this year.”

According to Tolzda, the earliest date when in-person school could resume is Oct. 5.

“That’s the goal,” Tolzda said of Oct. 5, but the Blue Devils’ administration will “continue to monitor things and stay in contact with the health department.”

In terms of extracurricular activities, Beallsville has halted all of those until at least Monday. Since students participating in remote learning are still considered to be in school, athletics could continue. However, the Blue Devils will not practice or play until at least next week.

“We didn’t want to cause any issues of taking (COVID-19) possibly into another school, and we want the contact tracing through the health department to get done and then we’ll know if any athletes have been in direct contact,” Tolzda said. “If so, they won’t be able to participate until their quarantine is over. We’ll look at who can participate next week. We made the decision (about athletics) out of an abundance of caution.”

The Blue Devils’ junior high volleyball team was scheduled to visit Bridgeport on Tuesday but did not. The varsity team will look to reschedule matches with Frontier, at Bridgeport and Cameron. The status of the varsity Linsly match on Monday is also in limbo.

As for football, the Blue Devils were scheduled to be off this week and next.

While COVID-19 hasn’t spared Beallsville since its arrival in March, this does mark the first time that a person affiliated with the school has contracted the disease.

“There have been cases in the community since the school year ended, but this is our first time dealing directly with one in the school,” Tolzda said. “Actually, I believe it’s the first one in the entire (Switzerland of Ohio) district.”

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