Martins Ferry schools watching for COVID

MARTINS FERRY — Educating children during the resurging COVID-19 pandemic and repairs to school infrastructure were among the issues discussed Tuesday by the Martins Ferry City Schools Board of Education.

Superintendent Jim Fogle gave an update on the state of COVID-19 cases throughout the district, reporting on cumulative cases since the beginning of the school year.

“We have a daily update on our website as far as positive cases that are reported to us,” Fogle said.

There are four positive middle school students and student three contacts, with one staff contact.

To date, there have been six positive cases at the elementary school, eight positive cases at the middle school and 26 cases at the high school.

Among staff, there have been no cases at the elementary school, three at the middle school and three at the high school.

There have been 42 students quarantined up to this point, and one staffer.

There has also been one positive COVID-19 case at the central office, but no one quarantined as a result.

“We are instructing our students, our staff and our parents to be very cautious if your son or daughter has any symptom whatsoever,” Fogle said. “They all can be classified as a COVID symptom. … Keep them at home until they know that they’re healthy and after 24 hours without medication, you can send them back.”

Fogle said Tuesday there were 68 absent elementary students, or 12 percent. There were 72 absences at the middle school, or 16 percent, and 78 students absent at the high school, or 17 percent.

“That’s kind of high,” board member Nick Stankovich said.

“It’s really not out of the norm, when you’re looking at 500 kids in a building. That’s really pretty normal as far as absences are concerned,” Fogle said afterward. “We tell our parents and our staff…please err on the side of caution. … I don’t know if anybody could ever say they’re confident (in the precautions). We’re just trying to do what’s best for our kids, and we have our students and staff, they’re at the center of every decision we make.”

Fogle said no further district mandates were being considered at this time, and masks remain optional, except on the school buses, which qualify as public transportation.

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation, continue to move forward with our mitigation plan that we have in place. Could that change? Of course. Our board and myself, we’re very aware of the situation, we’re on top of it,” Fogle said. “If there is a need for a mask mandate, then we will do it when we believe that.”

Fogle did not speculate how many students have decided on that option.

“Some of our students are choosing to wear a mask and some aren’t,” he said.

Fogle added that having students continue to attend school remains the district’s top priority.

“We found that there is nothing better than in-person instruction,” he said. “(The staff are) excited to be back with their students and to be face-to-face five days a week.”

In addition, the board declared an emergency and authorized negotiations of contracts with design professionals for remediation of heaving slabs in the high school floor.

“It looks like we’re going to have one section of the building, we hope to have that fixed, remediated and completed and put back together over Christmas break, that two-week period, and the remainder of the building that needs fixed…will be done over the summer,” Fogle said. He did not estimate the cost. “I don’t have everything at this time. We just have certain areas and aspects of it.”

The district website is mfcsd.k12.oh.us.


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