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Belpre City Schools has virtual town hall

BELPRE — Belpre City Schools held its third virtual town hall meeting Tuesday to provide an update on the community and the school year thus far.

“I am so grateful for everybody and what we are doing at a local level,” Superintendent Jeffrey Greenley said. “The good news for Belpre for now is that things are going well, and it is incumbent upon ourselves everyday to make the right choices.”

The meeting was the third in a series that has been held since COVID-19 hit, and was streamed on Facebook and YouTube. The previous two meetings were held before school started to allow parents, teachers and community members to ask questions about the 2020-2021 school year.

During the livestream, Greenley provided data from the Ohio Department of Health on COVID numbers and transmission on both the state and county level.

According to the ODH, there have been 1,973 cases reported on a 21-day average throughout the state, although ICU rates have remained relatively constant.

However, Washington County could potentially transition from orange to red on the COVID map based on rising indicator levels such as emergency department cases and non-congregate cases, according to the health department.

“There has been a troubling trend in the county where we have started to see more cases in Washington County,” Greenley said. “The vast majority of those cases, about 90 to 95 percent, have been in Marietta and a few in Belpre.”

According to data provided by Greenley for Washington County schools, only one case has been reported in the Belpre City Schools District.

When discussing how Belpre City Schools would handle potentially moving into the red, Greenley provided several surrounding counties as examples to consider and highlight how delicate and unpredictable this situation is.

Greenley explained that Guernsey County in Ohio went red several weeks ago but continued with its normal five-day operations due to none of the cases appearing in the school system. Conversely, Monroe County is classified as yellow but has seen spread within its schools.

“We are grateful to families who are keeping their children home if they feel ill,” Greenley said in terms of precautionary measures.

If Washington County moves into red, Greenley recommends that the school board meet within 48 hours of the transition to consult with employees and public health directors and determine whether or not regular operations can be maintained before automatically opting into hybrid learning.

For those who are learning from home, Belpre City Schools intends to review the virtual learning option provided to students in January and send out a survey that will allow families to decide whether or not they wish to send their students to school physically for the second half of the school year, according to Greenley.

If a family wishes to transition their child to virtual learning at any point in the process, Greenley explains that this is still possible and to let the school district know.

Belpre City Schools will also be hiring additional custodial support for the elementary school in order to keep the facilities as clean as possible, according to Greenley.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine referenced the school system in Ohio during his press briefing and coronavirus update on Oct. 22.

“The schools around our state from what I can tell are doing a great job,” DeWine said. “We are really seeing the spread in society from people letting their guard down.”

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