COVID closes local school

Published 5:54 pm Friday, August 28, 2020

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AHOSKIE – Classes have been temporarily paused after some members of the faculty of Ahoskie Christian School tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a post from the school’s Facebook group which was obtained by the News Herald, the school will be closed until September 9. This decision was made after speaking with the health department which advised the school to shut down campus for all activities during the 14-day quarantine period.

Albemarle Regional Health Services categorizes the situation at Ahoskie Christian School as a “cluster” which is defined as when there are five or more cases connected through transmission and who are not all part of the same household.

The temporary halt in educational instruction also extends to students participating in the school’s remote learning option as well as any athletic activities, including practices, scheduled in the next two weeks.

Classes for the 2020-21 school year began on Monday, Aug. 24 but the five positive test results from staff members prompted the school to close for a two-week period the next day. The Facebook post noted that a majority of the COVID-positive staffers had no contact with the students, and that there has only been minimal exposure for students.

Like other private schools in the area, Ahoskie Christian opted for in-person learning this year, though they did also provide an option for remote learning. No matter which option students chose, they would be required to stick with that learning style for the first nine weeks of school before being able to switch to the other if they wished to do so.

In light of the announcement of the positive cases, however, school officials said any student wishing to switch to remote learning may do so at any time now during the first nine weeks.

The school’s reopening plan, previously reported by the News Herald, detailed several health and safety measures including daily temperature checks when students arrive and designated entrances/exits for different grade levels. Students would also have to eat snack and lunch in their classrooms. Microwaves and water fountains would not be used.

Masks were not required.

All families were required to sign a COVID-19 waiver and liability release form before returning their students to school this year. The form noted that, despite the precautions, the school could not guarantee that students and their families would not be exposed or infected with the virus.

According to the Facebook post on Wednesday from Pastor Josh Butler, the school administration believes “in-classroom instruction is far superior to any online or remote option” and they would follow the public health guidelines so that in-person instruction could resume again on Sept. 9.

“Our ministry’s passion is to provide the best quality education we can from a Christian worldview perspective. In order to accomplish this we must balance several things: provide a healthy and safe environment in the midst of a pandemic, continue to look for better ways to incorporate technology into our remote learning options, and finally do whatever we must to continue in-classroom instruction throughout the rest of the year,” the post concludes.

Calls and emails to the school administration for further information were not returned.