Patrick Henry

Superintendent Josh Biederstedt

HAMLER — Patrick Henry Local Schools also reported a smooth return to in-person classes following its holiday break.

“Everyone is working hard a staying safe,” Superintendent Josh Biederstedt said to the board of education Tuesday. “I’m proud of everyone.”

Biederstedt shared he recently did a student profile for a freshman, and when he was asked about what he likes about attending PH, he said he enjoys that he gets to come to school and see his friends.

“That was good for me to hear. It was a needed experience,” Biederstedt said.

Biederstedt said there were a few days of remote learning before the break to serve as a buffer, adding this helped reduce exposure in two cases. Students returned to the building at the beginning of the year and Biederstedt reported no noticeable increase in positive cases or quarantines.

“I think people did a good job of keeping their circles small,” he said. “We’ve been at this long enough that I think people realize being here is important. We’ve been back for about a couple weeks, and we’re doing the best we can.”

Student Liaison Meredith Myers noted students are doing their part in following safety guidelines and made note of a recent state decision to change quarantine guidelines.

The previous state guidelines determined anyone who is considered a close contact — closer than 6 feet for more than 15 minutes within a 24-hour period — with a person who tests positive for COVID-19 should be quarantined, whether or not they were wearing a face mask.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced the state was breaking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and would no longer quarantine those close contacts as long as the exposure occurred in a classroom setting with all individuals wearing masks. Quarantines will still be utilized for close contacts that occur in extra-curricular settings, including sports, as well as if masking and distancing protocols are not being followed in the classroom.

Biederstedt said the state listened to concerns of school districts, and made a decision that had the backing of research. He said the decision helps the district keep more kids in the school. He said, while previously a case would result in 12-13 students being quarantined, the new guidelines cuts this down to about two.

“But, the other things we are doing are just as important,” he said. “With social distancing, masks and hand washing, we’ve asked the staff to double down on that. We need to take advantage of a great opportunity to stay in the school building.”

Biederstedt said preliminary information is also being gathered as the state enters phase 1B of COVID vaccination, as the process will soon begin considering school personnel. The state time line has school employees in the group able to receive the vaccine the week of Feb. 1.

Biederstedt reported an anonymous interest survey has been distributed to school personnel. He said about 100 responses have been received, with 64% indicating they are interested in receiving the vaccine.

“We’re taking the lead of the health department, and they will tell us what route to take and who we are working with,” Biederstedt said of the vaccines. “When it’s time, we want to be prepared and get shots for the people who are wanting it.”

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