Gadsden City High School to be virtual rest of the week; mask mandate back for system

·3 min read

Gadsden City High School announced on Wednesday afternoon that school for the remainder of the week will be taught virtually through Google Classroom.

The decision, according to Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Tony Reddick, was made because of the rise in COVID-19 cases within the system causing a lack of teachers.

“We’ve had a few cases there that have caused more teachers to be out than we have substitutes to cover, so we’re going virtual there for two days,” said Reddick. “As much as it is COVID-related, it has more to do with the supervision of students.”

The system also has reinstituted a mask mandate for all its schools through at least Jan. 18.

Reddick said as of now, only Gadsden City High School will be virtual and all other schools within the system will continue in-person classis. However, the situation is going to be considered “fluid” and could change at any time.

“There aren’t any that have the same problems with supervision,” Reddick said. “Our infection rate is only at 1.7%, which is not at the point where we would all pull out and do virtual school.”

While virtual days for the high school are only confirmed for Thursday and Friday, Reddick added that the situation would be reassessed in the coming days to see if virtual learning needs to be extended further. However, he is confident that there will be enough teachers back in the building next week.

“With the new guidelines by the CDC indicating five days out and wearing a mask when you get back, all those teachers who are out should be back by then,” Reddick said. “This is barring that any other teachers should test positive in this time.”

Systemwide, Gadsden City Schools reported 65 students and 27 faculty and staff out with the virus. Of these, 13 staff members are located at GCHS.

Reddick said students and faculty out from exposure were also up, totaling 92 people out in the system from either testing positive or being exposed to someone who had.

“The majority of our teachers have already been vaccinated, but obviously with this holiday weekend, there have been some infections,” he said.

Gadsden City Schools had pulled back on its mask mandate, making masks optional for students and faculty within the schools. Reddick said this decision was made because the infection rate at the time was 0.2% and as a way to appease “parents and students who did not want to wear masks anymore.”

He said the present mandate will be reevaluated on Jan. 17 while students are out of school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“Because we realized that there would be a number of cases based on what has been shared with us on the Omicron variant, it was likely that there would be an increase in cases,” he said.

Reddick told The Times on Monday that schools would continue the cleaning regimen that they have had in place since the start of the pandemic.

“I was just talking to a principal and her cleaning staff yesterday, and she is still asking that desks and everything be wiped down daily,” he said.

Reddick asked people to remain conscious of the coronavirus, adding, “Even though it’s not reported to be as dangerous as Delta or the original strain was, it (Omicron) can still make you sick.”

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Gadsden City High School switch to virtual classes; mask mandate back

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