WOLCOTT — Tri-County School Corporation is adjusting its original COVID-19 response plan to make it more flexible when it comes to closing down schools in response to confirmed positive virus tests.
Tri-County reported its first positive test of COVID-19 late last month and closed each of its school buildings for one day. The school also canceled all of its fall sports events, which included a football game, volleyball tournament and a cross country meet.
The addendum the school board discussed during its regular meeting this week would allow administrators to consult with local health departments, use contact tracing and case investigations to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.
The original plan released in July calls for all school buildings to close within the corporation.
“Unfortunately, a couple weeks ago we did have to close down school and that was in accordance to our re-entry plans that was released to the community, our parents, and what was discussed at school board meetings,” Superintendent Patrick Culp said. “However, when situations happen we always take time to stop and reflect, trying to make better decisions moving forward. So as we move on through the school year, the admin team and I are always making sure we are going in the right direction.
“Of course, our focus will continue to remain on students and staff’s safety and health.”
Culp said school officials are working on an updated plan that wouldn’t necessarily include closing all school buildings in isolated cases, depending on the situation. It would also allow custodians to enter buildings without waiting the original 24 hours to begin cleaning if advised by the corporation’s and health department’s case investigation.
“For me, one of the biggest considerations was when we shut down. It was on a Friday and some of our kids didn’t eat lunches that day, which spirals into the weekend where there is food insecurity in this community,” he said. “That’s something we talk about a lot. We want to make sure students and families have access to food.”
Culp doesn’t rule out future corporation-wide school closures.
“I’m not saying that there may not ever be a total closure,” he said. “It just gives us flexibility to do what’s best for each scenario. The biggest part of this plan is consultation with the local health departments.”