INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (WOIO) - The entire Independence middle school football team is quarantined after a player tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday.
Independence Local Schools is one of the few school districts in Cuyahoga County to offer students in-person classroom instruction five days a week in the era of COVID.
“We’ve had success with our mask policies and our distancing and our sanitizing policies,” said Ben Hegedish, Superintendent of Independence Local Schools. “I hope that they hold true and we don’t see a spread or a transmission here as well, but of course we’ll be holding our breaths for a couple weeks just to make sure of that.”
On Tuesday, an 8th-grade football player left practice early after he started experiencing shortness of breath and other COVID symptoms.
On Thursday morning, Hegedish learned that the student had tested positive for COVID-19. It is the district’s first confirmed case since the class went back in session two weeks ago.
“Immediately got on the phone with the board of health, and my middle school principal had to get seating charts so we could begin the contact tracing component, so we looked at the dates the student was in school,” Hegedish explained.
The district decided to quarantine a total of 45 people, the football team plus a few staff members, and students they believed had close contact with the student.
“We put the students in an isolation area,” the superintendent said. “We actually kept them outside at the high school football stadium distanced but waiting.”
Since over 25% of the 8th grade had to be quarantined for two weeks, Hegedish made the decision to switch the entire 8th-gradeclass to remote learning for the next two weeks. If any of the quarantined students show symptoms, they will need to get tested and notify the district. The superintendent said to his knowledge, at this point none of the exposed faculty or students have shown symptoms.
Hegedish said he will not hesitate to switch the entire district over to virtual learning if he has to.
“I think we’re as prepared as we can be,” Hegedish said. “We have had a back order so some of the technology shortages we have not been immune to that so we have a large order of chrome books that were ordered in April and we haven’t received yet so we have a lot of our students unfortunately that are operating on a bring your own device model of technology that isn’t ideal but it’s doable.”
The district is supposed to be getting those laptops sometime next month, until then Hegedish is just hoping that the virus hasn’t spread and that the measures they’re taking with masks and social distancing work.