Brownstown Elementary class in quarantine after positive test



A Brownstown Elementary School class has transitioned to virtual learning due to a positive COVID-19 test and “other extenuating circumstances.”

That news was shared via a post on the corporation’s Facebook page by Superintendent Tim Taylor on Tuesday after being advised by the Jackson County Health Department to issue the quarantine. The letter was addressed to parents, guardians and community members.

The parents of all students affected and needing to quarantine were directly notified by school staff members. While switching to virtual learning, the students will receive information about instruction and expectations via Google Classroom from their teacher.

The students may return to school when they have met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Jackson County Health Department guidelines for re-entry, Taylor said.

“Brownstown Central Community School Corp. holds the health and well-being of our students and staff as a top priority,” Taylor wrote. “We will continue to stay in close communication with state and local health authorities as we move forward during this very difficult school year. Please continue to monitor your children for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.”

Since the new school year started in August, the elementary has operated in pods. To help minimize the number of kids going home because they feel sick or have virus symptoms, Assistant Principal Marty Young rearranged classrooms so students could be placed in pods, or groups of five or less. Students travel in their pod to the restroom, recess and cafeteria. The pods rotate every two weeks.

Taylor said school officials believe that approach is successful in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the school.

“We treat our students as if they are our own, so you can rest assured that if our schools are open, it is safe to send your children,” he said. “The due diligence of our staff and students in taking preventative measures has allowed us to continue delivering some form of in-person instruction to our students to this point.”

During Tuesday night’s board of trustees meeting that was conducted via Zoom, BES Principal Chrystal Street said having to quarantine a class was hard since the kids like being in school and participating in activities.

“I hate that we had to do that, but we’re trying to keep everybody safe,” she said. “We have 583 kids who are not virtual, so for only having one quarantined class, we’re keeping it together OK.”

She and Taylor gave shoutouts to school nurses, office staff members and the school counselor for all of their work, including contact tracing and notification of parents.

“This is the first shutdown of any kind we’ve experienced in the corporation, and that’s because our staff and students have done such a great job in taking precautionary measures as far as social distancing and wearing masks,” Taylor said. “We hated that we had to do this, but it was the recommendation of the health department at this point, so we’re going to do what we can to keep our kids healthy.”

Middle and high schools still on hybrid schedule

After fall break in October, Brownstown Central middle and high schools switched to a hybrid schedule.

The change came after the Indiana State Department of Health designated Jackson County as orange due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Since then, middle and high school students have been reporting on an alternating (every other day) schedule as follows: Red Day is last names beginning with A through J and any other household member with a different last name, and Black Day is last names K through Z.

Both schools began the second trimester Monday, and the hope is to resume a normal schedule by the start of the third trimester the last week of February 2021.

BCMS Principal Doug McClure said 30 students switched from virtual learning to in-person instruction for the second trimester. That leaves 39 students still doing virtual learning — seven sixth-graders, 13 seventh-graders and 19 eighth-graders.

“We’re glad to see that,” McClure said of seeing familiar faces return to the building.

BCHS Principal Joe Sheffer said he still has 65 students doing virtual learning, leaving around 225 students in the building.

“We’re all social distanced, and with everything going on right now, it’s really important, so we’re really good if we have any outbreaks or anything like that,” he said.

Taylor also is glad to see more students returning to in-person learning.

“I think that speaks to the type of education that they were missing from being here in person with our teachers,” he said. “Our teachers do a very nice job. Teachers make the difference in education, and virtual education just cannot replace being in a classroom with a teacher. We just want to say we’re glad they are coming back and they recognize the difference that those teachers will make in their education.”

The high school had its first winter sporting event Saturday — a home girls basketball game — while the middle school had its first home basketball games Monday and Tuesday nights.

Sheffer said an electronic system is being used for tickets to basketball games.

“With the numbers that constantly are changing, it allows us to dictate how many tickets can go out and pretty much guarantee immediate family members access to the tickets,” he said.

A note informing the ticketholder a mask must be worn at the games is on each ticket.

“We did that for the first time with short notice at our basketball game, and we had very few issues,” Sheffer said. “If somebody has a phone that doesn’t work, we still sell them a ticket, but we work with them to try to get them set up on the system.”

Boys and girls basketball games will be livestreamed on YouTube this winter so people have a way to watch the games if they can’t be there in person, Sheffer said.

At BCMS, McClure said the sixth grade boys basketball game Monday night was well under capacity. He thanked BCHS Athletic Director Mark DeHart and BCMS Athletic Director Michael Leitzman for getting the ticket availability procedure established and communicated to parents.

“The early indication is that everybody understands the restrictions that we’re under, and they are cooperating, so we are appreciative of the community for that,” McClure said.

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The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, congestion/runny nose, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea/nausea/vomiting, headache, sore throat, muscle aches/pain, fatigue, chills and loss of taste/smell.

If any Brownstown Central Community School Corp. student experiences any of these symptoms or if anyone has questions, call the BCCSC COVID-19 hotline at 812-358-6222.


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