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St. C. School to reopen today

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — St. Clairsville High School held classes online Thursday while staff from the Belmont County Health Department traced possible contacts of a student who tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the Belmont County Health Department, 29 people associated with that case are quarantined. Belmont County Deputy Health Director Robert Sproul declined to speculate about how the student contracted the coronavirus.

“They were not sure where she got it,” Sproul said in a text message.

St. Clairsville-Richland City Schools District Superintendent Walt Skaggs said school is expected to resume normally today and continue next week.

“We’ll be back in session pre-K through 12,” Skaggs said.

The elementary and middle schools were not impacted by the coronavirus infection and remained open.

“We met with the health department this morning. They actually came through our building, looked at the classrooms and did the contact tracing,” Skaggs said, adding he did not believe any staff would have to go into quarantine. Later that day, Sproul said one staff member is quarantined.

“I feel the protocols we have in place prevented this from being larger than it was. We’re just hopeful that everyone has a fast recovery and those that are in quarantine are back and remain symptom-free,” Skaggs said.

Skaggs said he believes morale remains strong among students and parents. The school educates about 450 students, and close to 85 percent have opted for in-person education since schools reopened, while 15 percent are taking the online learning option.

“I have not received any complaints or anything at this point, and we’re carrying on as normal,” Skaggs said.

Belmont County’s school districts prepared extensively during the summer months to hold in-person schooling this fall. Districts including Shadyside, Martins Ferry, Union Local, Switzerland of Ohio in Monroe County and now St. Clairsville have since reported single cases, but so far the virus has not spread widely through the schools.

Meanwhile, the total number of positive cases in Belmont County climbed to 63 people with active cases and in isolation at home. A week ago today, the number of such active cases was 39.

Sproul said there have been 791 cases in total since the pandemic began, with 697 recoveries and the number of people hospitalized recently increased to seven. There have been 25 deaths associated with COVID-19, including nine inmates at Belmont Correctional Institution.

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