Virus thwarts Valley school traditions
Youngstown State University will not have a traditional weeklong spring break in March because officials are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
The announcement Friday by the university came at the same time that Mahoning Valley school districts are identifying increased numbers of students and staff who have been exposed in some way to COVID-19, and are shutting down some in-person activities now.
The university said its decision to cancel the break was made at the recommendation of public health officials. YSU President Jim Tressel said instead the university’s spring semester calendar will include “wellness days” on Feb. 16, March 11 and 12, April 7, and April 23.
Although there will be no classes on these days, the university will be open, and services will be available. The university also will not have classes on Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day
The Warren City School District on Friday said it is moving all K-12 students to online / remote learning effective Monday through Dec. 18, which is the end of the first semester.
The decision by Warren was made due to increasing numbers of students and staff testing positive for COVID-19, its related quarantines and pending virus test results across the district and Trumbull County overall, according to Superintendent Steve Chiaro.
In Liberty schools, the district’s Pre-K-6 building will be fully remote beginning Monday.
Youngstown City School District is already online-only, but now CEO Justin Jennings has suspended district athletics, effective immediately.
“We have to put the health of our scholars, scholar-athletes, staff and families first,” Jennings said. “I know athletics means a lot to many young people. The decision to suspend winter sports wasn’t an easy one, but it’s the right one.”
The suspension is effective until at least January when it will be revisited. Whether sports resume at that point will depend on the virus numbers, Jennings said.
Choffin Career and Technical Center also is shut down for its adult education program
The Mahoning Valley had a total 71 new reported cases of students identified with COVID-19 during the week of Nov. 8 -15, according to the Ohio Department of Health wesbite. There were 55 newly reported cases of adult staff members with the virus identified by Valley school districts.
Identification of people with the virus by the schools does not mean it was contracted on school property, only that they are identified with it.
Of the three counties, Trumbull school districts had the highest number of new student and new staff members with COVID-19.
∫ Trumbull had 44 new student identifications and 33 new staff member identifications for a total of 77 new cases.
Liberty’s Pre-K-6 building is going full remote Monday due to the number of staff quarantines. Students in the school’s “maroon” cohort will return to the school on Nov. 30. Students in the school’s “gold” cohort will return to the building on Dec. 3. Parents are being asked to check their child’s Google Classroom, at 9 a.m. Monday, for their child’s assignments.
Warren schools reported two new student and three new staff cases during this period.
Other Trumbull school districts reporting multiple cases include Niles, which reported 12 new student cases and eight new staff cases. Champion reported nine new student cases and one new staff case. Mathews reported six new student and two new staff cases.
∫ Mahoning County had 15 new student and 10 new staff identifications for a total of 25 new cases during the same week.
Struthers had the highest number of new student cases, with five, followed by Ursuline, with four.
∫ There were 12 new student and 12 new staff identifications in Columbiana County.
Crestview had five new student cases identified during the same period.
Chiaro on Friday noted if health conditions improve, Warren schools may return to the hybrid schedule on Jan. 4.
Warren G. Harding High School students will continue to work under the “gold schedule” — K-8 online students will continue as they have been working; and hybrid cohort A and B students will now combine during this time for four full days of instruction: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
The rise in COVID-19 cases has affected the district’s ability to maintain consistent and stable in-person learning and effective operations, according to a news release. “As a result, we believe moving to all remote learning over the next several weeks is the best decision to protect its students and staff,” according to Chiaro.
The district will continue to distribute food to student families with plans to release details regarding any change in times and locations of distribution as soon as possible, via the district website.
At this point, athletics and activities will continue but will be re-evaluated frequently.