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Erie County schools will begin year entirely online, following recommendation by board of health

Based on the spread of COVID-19 and Erie Co. remaining at a Red Alert Level, the board of health recommended all districts within the county begin virtually.

ERIE COUNTY, Ohio — In a release issued today, the Erie County Board of Health recommended that all K-12 school districts within the county begin the school year through remote learning, rather than in-person classes.

According to Health Commissioner Peter Schade, county public school districts have agreed to follow the recommendation of remote learning for the first academic quarter.

The board of health cited the Ohio Department of Health's ongoing designation of Erie County as a "Red Alert Level 3 Public Health Emergency" county since July 23 as a large concern, further elaborating that despite Erie County. being ranked 32nd among population in Ohio, it currently has the 13th highest incidence of COVID-19 cases. Cases have continued to rise steadily, according to the board of health.

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Statistics involving infection rates associated to school buildings (students, teachers, coaches and administrators) cite 229 students under the age of 19 and 23 adults were placed on mandatory quarantines within the past 5 months. Of the 252 total cases, 212 occurred in July alone.

Taking this into consideration, the Erie County Board of Health recommended all Erie County school districts, both public and private, begin with virtual education for the school year through October 30, in the interest of safety for students, staff and families.

The board of health also recommended that districts follow OHSAA and Gov. DeWine's orders involving sports activities. Erie County has followed COVID-19 cases involving 16 school sports teams in 5 school districts since non-contact sports practices resumed on May 22. 3 private teams also had positive COVID-19 cases.

The board of health said that the cases were not limited to a single sport but due to group gatherings.

Recommendation was made that if schools do need to meet with students to establish virtual learning, it should be done within the first two weeks of the school year and follow social distancing with facial coverings required. The needs of students who require special accommodations for learning can also be addressed during this time.

The board of health will continue to meet with school administrators to review data on COVID-19 guidance to determine a date for in-person classes to resume safely.

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