Etowah City School Director Dr. Mike Frazier discussed his plans for ECS during the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases.
After recent temporary closures of McMinn County High School, Niota Elementary School and Athens City Middle School, Frazier noted that ECS is trying to keep from taking that route.
“We hope to hold off on having to close our school down if we can because we will be out of school all next week for Thanksgiving and that will give us time to do everything that we need to do,” Frazier said. “Our current plan is to perform a deep clean of the school on Monday and Tuesday while the school is already closed.”
According to Frazier, the staff and students at ECS have been cleaning the building on a regular basis.
“They do a fantastic job of cleaning every afternoon and it is amazing to me to come in and see what they have done and the hard work that they put in. They have done a marvelous job,” Frazier expressed. “I’m thankful for all of them. They work hard and I don’t think we can give them enough accolades and credit for what they do because it is a tough job.”
He said they have remained relatively low on positive cases this year.
“All year we have had three teachers that tested positive and six of our teachers quarantined,” he stated. “For staff we have had one test positive, two quarantined and with our students we have had six positive cases and 49 quarantined and that is where things get tricky.”
He stated the majority of the students who have been quarantined was due to them being exposed to a family member that had tested positive.
“The number of people quarantined is the number that grows exponentially (for the school), so when you start checking in to find people who were within six feet for longer than 15 minutes, you will have to quarantine those people,” Frazier noted.
Teachers being quarantined is currently the most difficult situation for the school to handle.
“When our teachers get quarantined then we have go virtual for their classes. So if we have a bunch of teachers quarantined we have to try to make everything as accessible as we can,” he explained. “In one aspect, going virtual has been a blessing because we maintained that methodology but nothing will ever replace that one on one aspect of having students and teachers together in the classroom.”
He believes that if it weren’t for the recent uptick in cases that ECS may have seen more students return to in-person learning rather than opting to remain fully virtual.
“We have several students who are virtual only and have been all year and I believe that if we weren’t experiencing the resent increase in cases, I think we probably would have seen more kids come back to school prior to the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks,” he said. “I think due to the recent increase in cases everybody just kind of remained the same.”
Frazier noted that the school has a plan in the event the number of cases continues to grow rather than level back out.
“We have a plan already, like everybody else, between everyone attends in person, the hybrid between in-person and virtual, and lastly we have a full virtual plan,” he explained. “If at the first of the year there was such an uptick in the disease we would probably be looking toward more virtual to keep everybody safe.”
Frazier expressed his thoughts on how the year has gone for the school so far.
“We are thankful that we have been in school this long and not have had many issues and battles to fight,” said Frazier. “We have been very blessed and I attribute that to our teachers and students for remaining vigilant in practicing the guidelines and I believe that we have been able to stay in this long because we all practice those protocols every day.”