PERRY COUNTY — With daily COVID-19 cases in Ohio setting a new record nearly every day for the last week, a quick survey of two Perry County school districts indicate that social distancing protocols are keeping students and staff primarily virus free.

Northern Local School District superintendent Tom Perkins reports that four staff members and four students have tested positive for COVID-19 this school year.

“So far, so good,” described Perkins when discussing COVID numbers for Sheridan schools. He stated that a total of 52 students and/or staff have been placed in quarantine due to suspected contact with an individual who did test positive for the virus.

Contact tracing for the eight individuals show that each contacted COVID-19 from a source outside the schools, according to Perkins. “Monitoring the number of COVID cases in our school district will be a determining factor in keeping our schools open,” detailed Perkins. “Right now, we’re good.”

Tony Deem is the superintendent for Southern Local Schools where positive COVID-19 tests total five for the year. One staff member and four students have tested positive so far this year with the total number of 27 staff/students quarantined since the start of school. Currently, no staff or students are in quarantine.

“We’re kind of on an island here and that has worked in our favor,” says Deem describing the location of Miller Schools. After completing a survey of the community, Deem reports that seventy-five per cent of those who replied felt that face-to-face instruction five days a week was the route to go.

“Seventy-five per cent of our students are in school five days a week with 25 per cent receiving remote instruction,” reported Deem. He added that students who chose remote learning will be permitted to return to the classroom after the first semester is completed if they choose to do so.

Similarly to Tom Perkins at Northern Local, Deem says the contact tracing for the positive COVID tests proved to be from outside the district. Deem was asked to describe his overall impression of being a superintendent during this pandemic.

“I’ve never worked harder!” was his instant reply.

Both school districts are following the same policy whenever a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19. A letter from the superintendent is placed on the school’s website informing the public about the actual school building where staff member or student attends. A statement about the district’s plan of action is also included in the notification letter.

Both Tom Perkins and Tony Deem are determined to keep a diligent watch on COVID-19 numbers in order to keep their school systems open as long as it is safe to do so. Next week, the superintendents at Crooksville and New Lexington will be asked to detail COVID-19 cases in their respective districts, and what to expect as far as how each district plans to move forward.

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