Middle School shuts down due to COVID-19 cases

Following intercession week, multiple COVID cases were reported after an off-campus 8th grade activity

Chris Ayres, Sports Editor

In late January, the middle school students had to attend school virtually due to an increased number of COVID cases. 

“Over the intercession week, we discovered multiple cases within the middle school, and a few connections between them, making it impossible for us to return safely,” said Middle School Academy Leader Lori Trexler. “There were just too many connection points to the cases that were positive and there would just be too many kids that would have to be quarantining to make it worthwhile to have in-person school.”

Nurse Elizabeth Malone handles COVID case reportings all year, and agreed that the middle school needed to be online.

“In two days we had six middle schoolers who tested positive. The eighth graders had an optional off-site activity, and many of them were together and some of the ones that tested positive were there,” Malone said. “It kind of made for a lot of potential close contacts and it was hard to determine exactly who was within six feet for more than 15 minutes to who it wasn’t.”

The decision was made by the Caritas Committee in an effort to avoid possibly infecting more students or faculty. 

“A couple of us from the Caritas Committee made the decision that it was in the best interest of the school and for the faculty and staff to shut down and in doing that, it was the minimum number of days off we needed before we were able to get middle schoolers back,” said Malone. “It really worked out very well that they didn’t miss more than they needed to, so we really didn’t have to worry about any students coming on campus and being infectious.”

Safety has been a priority on campus throughout the school year, and both Trexler and Malone believe keeping the middle school students online for a week was the safest option.

“I think having that extra week to just keep the entire community safe is definitely a priority over having the middle school back, because it’s the larger community. It’s not just the middle school students that need to stay safe,” said Trexler.

“We really don’t want to take any risks we’re doing our best to keep everybody in school as much as possible, but we can’t do that at the risk of putting our teachers, our staff and other students at risk,” Malone added.

While the gathering occurred outside of campus, it still served as a good opportunity to remind students of health and safety protocols. 

“We just reinforced the protocol and that masking was really important and reminded them that if we wanted to be able to continue to stay on campus, we just had to really stick to masking and distancing to make it possible,” Trexler stated.

Those reminders stretch further than just the students, as Malone also took time to remind the parents of making sure students are staying safe off-campus as well.

“We do keep reminding parents to just be cognizant of any sleepovers or carpooling or gatherings and to shy away from those because that seems to be more of the cause,” Malone said. “Those are the reminders we keep putting out there.”

Overall, Trexler and Malone had high praise for the students and their willingness to comply with the social distancing protocols.

“I would say that the protocols are being followed and the teachers are doing a great job of correcting students when they need to,” Malone stated. “I feel like everybody’s been very compliant with that.”

“I think the middle school students are doing a great job and doing as well as they can in a situation. I think that it’s even improved throughout the school year,” said Trexler. “I think that people are understanding the protocols, understanding the reasoning behind it, and are following what they need to do, as well as knowing that being in school is definitely what everyone wants. And so if they want that, these protocols are actually really important for them to be following.”