Health Dept. Administrator Angela Cox, right, gives a COVID-19 test Monday at the drive-thru clinic at Shenandoah Elementary School. Cox said they had tested 100 people in the first 90 minutes of being open. Staff photo by Dakota Locker
Health Dept. Administrator Angela Cox, right, gives a COVID-19 test Monday at the drive-thru clinic at Shenandoah Elementary School. Cox said they had tested 100 people in the first 90 minutes of being open. Staff photo by Dakota Locker
Shenandoah School Corporation announced Sunday afternoon that the Raiders will be on eLearning for the next two weeks because of rising coronavirus cases in the schools.

“SSC has experienced a combination of 250 plus positive COVID-19 cases and close contact quarantines in the first two weeks of the new school year,” Shenandoah Superintendent Ron Green said. “When concerns such as these come to school, our staff must and has acted in the best interest of our students.”

Shenandoah administrators talked with the Henry County Health Department about the situation and their COVID-19 numbers.

“We were directed to use our eLearning platform for the next two weeks to help mitigate the spread of the virus,” Green said. “We continue to ask all parents to self-check their children each morning before school for COVID-19 symptoms.”

SSC provides copies of the building re-opening plans and lists of COVID-19 symptoms on the school district’s website.

“We appreciate all parents who have consistently followed this and all guidance in the plan,” Green said.

Shenandoah students will be on remote online learning through Aug. 27.

The Henry County Health Dept. set up a drive-thru rapid testing event Monday at Shenandoah Elementary School. They especially encouraged all SSC students, staff and their families to be tested, especially if they have been identified as a close contact to someone who had already tested positive for the virus.

They also be provided information about how to correctly quarantine and isolate per health experts guidelines.

Health Dept. Administrator Angela Cox explained that the contact tracing and quarantines are required by Indiana state law.

“These two things are not negotiable, like other mitigating factors, i.e. masks for the school board to rule over,” she said. Cox referred to Indiana Code 16-41-2-1 about communicable disease reporting.

She said the Indiana Dept. of Education’s rules require the shutdown, citing “Threshold of student absences for reporting purposes to local health departments” code.

“This is not a new thing specific to COVID-19. We have followed this rule in the past for cases of influenza and rotavirus, for example,” Cox said.

“The SSC Administration and Staff have worked tirelessly through the weekend to notify close contacts and keep the SSC family as safe as possible,” Cox continued. “They are doing an outstanding job and I ask that the public show them some grace when contacting them.”

Another concern raised by some community members was that Shenandoah had announced remote learning for students but had not announced any changes to the fall sports scheduled.

Cox said she provided the SSC administrators the same advice she gave to all Henry County schools last year regarding sports: if the situation is requiring the school to close due to illness, then sports should be stopped as well.

“The rationale is that many of the children playing sports are either ill or in quarantine,” she said. “The fact that a significant number of students/staff fall into this category demonstrates a high rate of transmission in that community.”

Cox said “very few” schools heeded that advice last year.

“The IHSAA is of NO help and we were in contact with them on numerous occasions,” she said.

Superintendent Green said Shenandoah High School is working with the Henry County Health Department about sports activities during the school building shutdown.

“There has been nothing finalized at this time,” Green said Monday.
© Copyright 2022, The Courier-Times, New Castle, IN.