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COVID-19 surge prompts concern in schools
coronavirus covid-19

MONROE — School officials are eyeing a return to stricter COVID-19 protocols, as they heard about soaring rates of illness in Monroe and statewide at Monday’s school board meeting.

Still, they say a return to virtual learning is not certain even with the heightened guidelines. The new much stricter measures only go into place once the district hits a 3-day rolling average of 50 cases.

“We can’t predict the future,” Joe Monroe, director of public services told the board. “But … We’re climbing right now.”

According to the schools COVID-19 dashboard 188 students, faculty and staff are impacted and absent by either quarantine or positive tests. Overall, about 20 percent of the student population is missing, with the most, 22 percent, from the high school, although that number may include students and faculty/staff with other illnesses.

Staffing is the biggest factor when it comes to keeping kids in class, and those numbers haven’t reached a level as of Monday to warrant any kind of return to virtual learning, Monroe said.

“As far as staffing we are doing everything in our power to serve our kids,” said Monroe.

The heightened COVID-19 plan calls for, among other measures, mandatory masks for all students, with certain exemptions honored. The escalated plan also calls for household contacts of those impacted to quarantine. 

Officials also pointed out that every person hospitalized at SSM Health Monroe Hospital for COVID-19 related illness is unvaccinated. SSM released hospitalization data on Jan. 10 that shows the 58-bed facility is 100 percent full, including all six ICU beds.

“It goes to highlight … that if you have not been vaccinated, please consider it,” said Rich Deprez, school board president.