High school switches to virtual learning after 99 students, staff quarantined for COVID-19

99 students and staff quarantined

High school switches to virtual learning after 99 students, staff quarantined for COVID-19

MANILA, Ark. (KAIT) - Manila High School students will spend the rest of the week working from home after 99 students and staff members were quarantined for the coronavirus.

Superintendent Jason Evers stated in a news release Monday that 7-12th grade students would pivot to blended learning beginning Tuesday, Sept. 15.

“We had a few students test positive over the weekend and today,” Evers said. “That resulted in quite a few students and staff being quarantined for close contact. Currently, we have 99 quarantined before the numbers come in for the positive case today. That number is expected to increase considerably after all of the tracing is completed.”

The town’s police department initially announced the students would be “going home for the remainder of the week” in a Monday morning post on social media.

Evers said in his statement that the students and staff had been preparing for such a situation.

“We are confident the high expectations we have at Manila will continue through Zoom meetings and Google classroom,” he said.

While the school is empty, Evers said they will “deep clean” the building. They will also be contacting everyone who may have come into contact with those infected.

“We will re-evaluate what we will be doing on Thursday, to make sure students should return the following Monday,” Evers said. “Student and staff safety is our first priority, and we will make decisions driven by that concern.”

Superintendent Jason Evers' complete statement:

Beginning tomorrow, all 7th-12th grade students at Manila will be pivoting to blended learning. We had a few students test positive over the weekend and today. That resulted in quite a few students and staff being quarantined for close contact. Currently, we have 99 quarantined before the numbers come in for the positive case today. That number is expected to increase considerably after all of the tracing is completed.

This is why we decided to switch all 7th-12th students over to blended learning for the remainder of this week. There will be several that must quarantine, but the majority will be at home for precautionary reasons and to limit exposures at this time. This will result in 494 students learning from home.

Our staff and students have been preparing for this situation, and we are confident the high expectations we have at Manila will continue through Zoom meetings and Google classroom.

This will give us an opportunity to deep clean, make sure we have contacted everyone that were close contacts and make sure we have not missed anyone that was not mentioned originally. We will re-evaluate what we will be doing on Thursday, to make sure students should return the following Monday. Student and staff safety is our first priority, and we will make decisions driven by that concern.

One parent commented that the high school students transitioning back to working from home may present a challenge for her and other parents.

“The way we learned things when we were in school aren’t the way they even teach things anymore. There’s a different way of learning… so I would have to reeducate myself in order to be able to help both of my children at that because things are just so different," said Lisa Sharp.

Sharp is the parent of a tenth grader and a sixth grader who both attend Manila Public Schools. She says she has a feeling the entire school system may have to go back to working from home permanently.

For a list of Region 8 schools impacted by COVID-19, tap or click here »

Copyright 2020 KAIT. All rights reserved.