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MANSFIELD -- St. Peter's Schools issued a press release Monday afternoon to share some of its administration's insights into the decision to move to online learning on Oct. 19 after a positive COVID-19 test.

The school will transition back to in-person learning on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

Here is its release:

On Saturday afternoon, the school notified parents that the school would transition to remote learning for Monday's classes so the administration could consult further with Richland County Public Health regarding contact tracing.

The school identified on Monday that it was a member of its high school/junior high staff who tested positive. Since Wednesday, the individual has been out of the classroom but did not receive confirmation of a positive test until late Friday.

"We decided to move to remote learning out of an abundance of caution on Monday to make sure we were fully in compliance with the guidelines and protocols with Richland Public Health," said high school/junior high principal Jon Cuttitta. "The top priority of our Restart Smart plan is the safety of our students and staff. While the sudden transition was stressful for everyone involved – especially our parents, it was an opportunity to put our COVID-19 remote learning plan into practice."

The school administration said their staff and students' vigilant practice of wearing masks during the school day and social distancing have significantly reduced any potential spread among the school's staff and student population. The CDC's current guidance for community exposure states an "individual who had close contact under six feet for more than 15 minutes" should be quarantined.

The school's maintenance staff also took the time on Monday to complete additional sanitizing on top of our routine cleaning and sanitization efforts.

“This was the first time that we could fully test our transition for remote learning for all students." said elementary principal Ashley Rastorfer. "We were very pleased that only a small percentage of students had issues getting into their virtual classrooms."

"We all understood this day would eventually come," said Rev. Gregory Hite, local superintendent and pastor of St. Peter's Parish & School. "I have full confidence that our administration and leadership team will continue to ensure our students' health and safety is the top priority."

School administrators said that online learning days might be used in the future to help the school conduct contact tracing and provide additional cleaning opportunities. Over the past several years, St. Peter’s has invested in technology improvements to make the seamless transition between in-person and remote learning possible at every grade level.

This school year, St. Peter’s has successfully implemented both in-person and remote learning opportunities at every grade. They also allow students to seamlessly transition to switch between the two based on the parents' or guardians' wishes.

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