Tri-Rivers Career Center reinstates mask mandate to avoid remote learning

·2 min read
Tri-Rivers Joint Vocational School District.
Tri-Rivers Joint Vocational School District.

Tri-Rivers Career Center announced Friday it was to reinstate its mask mandate Monday in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and avoid staffing shortages or transitioning to remote learning.

Because the career center was closed Monday due to snow-covered roads and icy weather conditions, the mandate will now be in effect Tuesday and will remain in place until Feb. 21.

On this date, staff will reassess the situation and decide how to move forward, according to an announcement from Superintendent Charles Speelman on the Tri-Rivers website.

In the announcement, Speelman said the career center has seen 53 positive cases among students and four among staff members in the three weeks it has been open following the holiday break. Additionally, over 200 students and staff were exposed during this time.

"Our staff is united in wanting to serve out students in the best possible way, which is face-to-face instruction for career-tech students. In order to do this, we have made the decision to require all staff and students to wear a mask to school so we can maintain in-person, hands-on instruction," Speelman said in the online announcement.

Marion City Schools also returned to its mask mandate as a way to alleviate staffing shortages from the virus leading to the district's need to transition to remote learning several times.

While following in Marion City Schools' footsteps, the need for Tri-Rivers to reinstate its mandate was largely due to the necessity of in-person learning due to the nature of the hands-on instruction the career center provides, making remote learning a difficult option.

The career center saw success with its mandate previously, and it feels hopeful that the return to masking will help allow the students and staff to remain in-person through the duration of the omicron surge, Director of Communications Ellen Messenger explained.

"When we has masks in the beginning, things went really well, so we figured we'd go back to it for a few weeks and get things back under control," Messenger said.

"Hopefully things by then will have peaked and will be going back to more of a steady thing so we won't be seeing this greater influx. We've got to keep our kids in school - we don't want to have to go remote, with them being career tech."

Story by: Sophia Veneziano (740) 564 - 5243 | sveneziano@gannett.com

This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Tri-Rivers Career Center reinstates mask mandate

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