CRESTLINE -- Crestline Exempted Village School District used its first calamity day Tuesday due to a high rate of illness in the district.
Crestline Supt. Matt Henderson confirmed that the district-wide school closure was largely due to COVID-19 and a lack of substitute personnel.
The district had 11 teaching staff members out of school as a result of testing positive for COVID-19 or being a close contact of a COVID-positive student.
There were also additional staff members out due to other illnesses. Henderson said the district was unable to secure enough substitutes to properly staff the K-12 school.
“We just couldn’t safely operate the building,” he said. “We’re going to continue to assess throughout the morning and early afternoon to see if we have to activate any distance or remote learning plan.”
There are currently 14 positive COVID-19 cases among students, which resulted in nearly one-third of the district being in quarantine or isolation.
“We’ve got nearly 200 of our students in our K-12 building are either close contact quarantine or tested positive themselves,” Henderson said.
There are a little over 620 students in the district, including those who attend Pioneer Career and Technical School. Henderson said Pioneer students have not been affected by the quarantines, which disproportionately hit the elementary end of the building.
“Our entire fourth grade is close contact quarantined,” he said. “We have an entire kindergarten classroom, two first grade classroom quarantines.”
Henderson said the district’s quarantine policies are consistent with the recommendations of the Crawford County Health Department and Ohio Department of Health.
Students who test positive must isolate for 10 days after their positive test. Students in quarantine can return to classes in seven days if they have a negative viral COVID test at least five days after exposure.
Students who consistently and correctly wore a facial covering during exposure can continue attending classes if they have no symptoms and continue mask wearing.
Masks are currently optional for staff and students.
“We strongly recommend the wearing of masks. We don’t have a mask mandate in place other than riding the bus,” Henderson said.
Both East Knox Local Schools and Danville Local Schools in Knox County reinstituted mask requirements following COVID-19 outbreaks. Henderson said it's up to the school board to decide whether or not to change school policy.
“We haven’t had that discussion yet,” he said around 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
COVID cases on the rise across Crawford County
Crawford County Health Commissioner Kate Siefert said the school district is working closely with the Crawford County Public Health (CCPH) to conduct contact tracing.
As of Aug. 30, a quarter of Crawford county’s COVID-positive individuals lived in Crestline, Siefert said. Statistics exclude Galion, which has its own city health department.
CCPH was aware of 176 active cases in its jurisdiction Monday, including 44 cases in Crestline. Cases ranged from a 1-month-old to a 92-year-old, but 64 percent of the cases were under age 50.
In Crestline, there were 12 cases among individuals under 18.
Siefert said that of the 176 positive and ill COVID cases, only 10 of the people were fully vaccinated. One lives in Crestline.
There are 18 non-Galion Crawford County residents hospitalized with COVID-19. Four are fully vaccinated individuals who have underlying health conditions. The age range for hospitalized patients was 37 to 92.
Siefert said that COVID infections among the area children remain mild, but more contagious due to the Delta variant.
During the last wave of COVID-19 in the county, Siefert said it was common for parents to get COVID and avoid passing it on to their children. Delta has changed that.
“Once it enters the household it's really hard for the other household members not to become ill,” Siefert said.
Siefert said she’s also seeing individuals who have already had COVID test positive again. Among the unvaccinated, cases are often just as severe the second time around.
“We anticipate over the next four to six weeks that our numbers will continue to rise,” Siefert said. “We have some challenges ahead of us and people have a lot of choices to make.”
Siefert credited the rapid rise in cases to Crawford county’s low vaccination rate as well as more people gathering in groups without following health recommendations.
She encouraged residents to visit CCPH’s immunization clinics for the COVID-19 vaccine or other vaccines. Clinics take place at 1520 Isaac Beal Road in Bucyrus. There is also a clinic in New Washington at St. John’s Lutheran Church every third Wednesday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Residents can call 419-562-5871 ext. 1209 to schedule an appointment.
Residents do not need to bring a health insurance card to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.