Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 7, Miami Trace Local Schools (MTLS) will be mandating masks for staff and students through at least Sept. 30 — at that point, the situation will be re-evaluated.
In a newsletter to parents, MTLS officials explained, “our numbers have doubled in a week’s time if you look at our COVID tracker posted on the (district) website. The positive cases went from 14 to 28, and quarantines went from 66 to 158. We are aware that other illnesses are playing into our attendance rates, but our attendance is well below average. After consulting with the Fayette County Public Health Department, Miami Trace will require universal masking for all people inside the campus facilities. Outdoor activities will not require masking. If our goal is to keep students in school, then it is our responsibility to act. If we want to keep our doors open and keep our young people in classrooms, we have to try and address these absences.”
Miami Trace Superintendent Kim Pittser explained that Miami Trace, while not required to do so, is tracking COVID numbers in the district to assist in keeping families informed. Those updates are provided via the COVID tracker referenced above. It is located on the school website at www.miamitrace.k12.oh.us/Messagefromthesuperintendent.aspx, which is updated each Friday.
“Regardless of one’s stance on masks, mask wearing does reduce the number of students quarantined based upon current Ohio Department of Health requirements for quarantine procedures within schools,” explains the newsletter.
Miami Trace Local Schools recently explained to parents via email and social media what options are on the table for the district if illnesses continue to worsen.
Within that video, Pittser explained there are several options “on the table” for keeping Miami Trace students and staff safe while continuing to provide an education if illnesses were to increase, including: masking (which will now be in effect beginning Tuesday), hybrid schedules, full-remote learning and/or closures.
The hybrid schedule at Miami Trace, if enacted, will be “a form of blended learning.” This means there will be some changes to how it works compared to last year’s hybrid plan, but schedules will still be based on family households for unified days for families.
The remote learning, if enacted, will be similar to last winter, according to Pittser. It will involve synchronous log-in times for students which will be determined by staff.
Closure of the district, if enacted, will count against the total days that can be missed per year. The Ohio Department of Education requires the district to meet a minimum threshold of instructional hours. If the district falls short of the state required hours, there will be make-up days.
The newsletter explains, “our goal is to keep students in school and avoid moving to hybrid learning, remote learning, or possible closure. Thank you for helping to keep our staff and students safe.”
Pittser said in the video, “none of these options are ideal, but we have options that must be considered depending on the scenarios. Are we addressing the number of cases, are we dealing with quarantines, or are we addressing both? Are we having challenges in one building or multiple? The nurses in our school buildings are from Fayette County (Public Health); therefore, we are in constant communication with Fayette County Public Health. Many aspects play a role in the recommendations made by our administrative team and the decision processes used by our board of education. Ultimately, we will continue to place health and safety at the forefront and do our best in serving our students and families.”
Follow the Record-Herald for any changes made in the future. Those with questions or concerns for Miami Trace may contact the central office at 740-335-3010.
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.