PALESTINE EAST – Superintendent Chris Neifer has canceled plans to travel to Columbus this week to help the school administration implement a school district-wide mask mandate.
“I canceled this trip to be there to help the administrative team”, said Neifer. “I didn’t think it was right for them to do it themselves. “
The warrant will take effect immediately in response to an increase in positive Covid cases. Two positive cases among students and staff took place last week, however, the cases have increased dramatically.
On Monday evening, Neifer reported that he continued to receive phone calls. Neifer has reported eight positive cases and 77 students placed in quarantine. Eleven students with multiple symptoms are considered positive screenings.
“More than 600 teaching days will be lost due to the spread in the last 24 hours. “ said Neifer.
The mandate will be redefined by the members of the education council every two weeks.
Neifer continues to meet with Mahoning and Columbiana County Health Services on a weekly basis, as well as superintendents of the Columbiana County Education Services Center and Eastern Ohio Education Services Center.
“This is the moment. We certainly had the conversation to try to use all of our mitigation strategies. We are doing very well so far. It is time now that because of this high rate of positivity and quarantine, we instituted a mandate to mask schools in the city of eastern Palestine to take effect immediately ”, said Neifer.
Students, staff and visitors are required to wear a mask at school and at any event taking place in a school building.
Neifer continues to encourage families to watch for symptoms in students. Families are encouraged not to send symptomatic pupils to school.
“We have to do our best to keep our children here. We know this is the best place for us to give them their education ”, said Neifer.
District staff are continuing with additional cleaning of high-contact areas, frequent hand washing, social distancing and other safety precautions.
Neifer said the school district is working with Akron Children’s Hospital to organize a call-back clinic for staff members as well as a vaccination clinic among students.
The ride home will be moved to a larger gym and face masks will be required.
Board member Ronald Novak eagerly endorsed a motion to impose masks in all grades K-12.
“We have to cover this up now” said Novak.
The East Palestine School District will be the fifth in Columbiana County to have a mask mandate.
“We cannot use our students as guinea pigs to see how many get sick before taking this step” remarked Novak.