Cassville sixth grade moved to virtual learning

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Latest COVID-19 positive put quarantines at 200 students, 2 staff in middle school

Another positive case of COVID-19 at Cassville Middle School has resulted in an additional 106 quarantines and the entire sixth-grade class being moved to virtual instruction.

Richard Asbill, Cassville superintendent, said all sixth-grade students have been moved to Engagement Level 3, beginning Thursday, which calls for students to receive instruction online using Google Classroom. Teachers will use email, Zoom, Class Dojo and Remind to communicate with students and families.

This will continue through Sept. 28, with sixth-grade students able to return to in-person classes on Sept. 29. The date is subject to change. Students in seventh and eighth grades are still asked to report to in-person classes.

“I would ask that you keep our [middle school] staff, students, and families in your thoughts and prayers,” Asbill said. “This move will require all of our efforts to be supportive, considerate and engaging. Stay focused on the protocols and our plans.”

On Sept. 11, 94 students, all in sixth grade, were placed into quarantine for one staff member testing positive, and on Sept. 16, the 106 additional quarantines — six sixth-graders, 53 seventh-graders and 47 eighth-graders — occurred after another staff positive.

The sixth-grade class has 100 total students quarantined, accounting for 67 percent of the class of 150.

District-wide as of Sept. 16, Cassville had three active cases of COVID-19 and 215 quarantines due to school-related cases. The quarantines account for 10 percent of the district population.

Asbill said there are some things that could be done that would have lowered the number of quarantines, though those actions significantly change the learning environment.

“All our employees wear masks, and some can deliver instruction while being physically distanced,” Asbill said. “But, some engage with students at tables or chairs. Our guidance as a district is still in place, and it’s reasonable guidance. It’s a challenge to ask teachers that actively engage with students in learning, with conversations and proximity to achieve a high level of learning, to change that.

“Engagement is important, and it’s a challenge to find a balance between that and distancing in the classroom. We will be giving additional guidance that although active and engaging learning is very important, with our current conditions with contact tracing, we will ask teachers to do what they can to limit proximity to students if at all possible.”

Cassville’s full “Return to Learn” plan, detailing protocols for Engagement Level 3, may be found at www.tinyurl.com/yxoq7zv6

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