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Faced with Dozens of Potential COVID cases, Fairfield School Board Votes to Continue Every Other Day Schooling

After hearing  District Nurse Kristi Ebaugh report that the district had sent home 69 students with “symptoms mimicking COVID” since the start of school, the Fairfield Area School District (FASD) Board of Directors voted to maintain for this semester the current A/B hybrid model in which children at all grade levels come to school only two days per week.

Ebaugh said the students who been sent home with COVID-like symptoms were not allowed to return to school until they had either received a negative COVID test or had quarantined for 14 days and that some of the students had chosen the quarantine option.

The decision was in line with a proposal to the board made by School Superintendent Michael Adamek.

Adamek said his proposal to continue the hybrid model was based on the increasing number of cases in the state, the county, and the district itself which, combined with the impossibility of properly social distancing the entire student body made five-day weeks unsafe.

Adamek said school classrooms were not big enough to create adequate social distancing if all of the students came back at once and there was also a danger that if cases continued to climb in the district the Pennsylvania Department of Health Guidelines would recommend that all students go full remote learning.

Adamek said there had been two new COVID cases in the district in the past weeks. “If we had more cases we might have to shut down the school for five to seven days,” said Adamek.

Ebaugh said the district had been calling the families of children who had been sent home every other day to help with quarantine and isolation but that FASD had fewer nurses and nurse assistants compared to other school districts in the county

Responding to Ebaugh’s comments, the board voted to hire a part-time nurse assistant using COVID funds at their disposal.

Adamek said going full time would also put burdens on transportation, custodial, utility, cafeteria, and health services, and that the district would “not be able to insure the health and safety of the students.”

The vote to remain on the hybrid model was split 6-2 with board president Marcy Van Metre, Lauren Clark, Jennifer Holz, Joshua Laird, David Millstein, and Earl Shutt voting in favor. Lashay Kalathas and Rhonda Myers voted against the motion.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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