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Some local schools backing off in-person classes

Concerns over a spike in local COVID-19 cases and rising numbers of students and staff having to quarantine themselves at home has prompted some school districts in the county to pull back from in-person attendance for students.

After opening for school on August 4, the McKenzie Special School District ceased all in-person classes late last week and will switch to distance learning online for all students until the end of the month.

The Hollow Rock-Bruceton Special School District has declared a two-week halt to in-person attendance, starting on Monday.

In the South Carroll Special School District, in-person attendance has been stopped for all Clarksburg High School students, who will be learning virtually from home until further notice, while middle, elementary, kindergarten, and pre-K students will continue to attend in-person for the time being.

Schools in the Huntingdon and West Carroll Special School Districts started for a half day on Monday, and as of press time Monday afternoon, these two districts were planning to continue in-person classes for all grades.

McKenzie Director of Schools Lynn Watkins said Thursday afternoon that there were around 50 students quarantining at home due to either confirmed infection, symptoms, or contact with an infected or possibly infected person.

Watkins pointed out that one student who is found to have COVID-19 or has been in close contact with someone who has the virus can result in multiple students and staff members being sent home for quarantine.

The current guidance from the state is that any student or staff member who has been within six feet of an infected or possibly infected person for more than ten minutes at a time has to go into quarantine for a period of 14 to 24 days, depending on the situation.

Watkins said the current plan is to resume in-person attendance on Monday, Aug. 31.

Hollow Rock-Bruceton Director of Schools David Duncan said Monday that his district has had a high rate of quarantine, including 60 or more students and staff members, though not many actually confirmed cases.

Duncan said that they will start distance learning for students as soon as possible, though that cannot start until needed equipment the district has ordered actually arrives, and that they plan to restart in-person classes on Aug. 31.

According to South Carroll Director of Schools Lex Suite, there were about 35 high school students in quarantine late last week, which represents about 33 percent of that school’s student population, though there have been very few or no quarantines in the younger grades. 

 As of 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, there had been 401 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Carroll County and six deaths attributed to the virus.

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