COVID positives, quarantines force shut down of 8th grade at local school

All 8th graders at Talawanda Middle School have been ordered into remote learning until Sept. 30 as district officials try to stave off an uptick of covid quarantines and positive tests. Thursday was the first day the 250 eighth graders of the school had to learn from home. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)
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All 8th graders at Talawanda Middle School have been ordered into remote learning until Sept. 30 as district officials try to stave off an uptick of covid quarantines and positive tests. Thursday was the first day the 250 eighth graders of the school had to learn from home. (Provided Photo\Journal-News)

Hundreds of middle school students in the Talawanda school system were ordered to stay home Thursday due to an uptick of positive coronavirus cases and subsequent quarantines.

It’s the first time in Butler County this school year that an entire grade was ordered to stay at home as a precaution to lessen the chances of further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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Of the 250 eighth-graders at Talawanda Middle School ― 80 students have been quarantined and five recently tested positive.

All 250 students will remain at home until Sept. 30, when live classes will resume for that grade.

“I had hoped that we would not need to close,” said Talawanda Superintendent Ed Theroux. “Unfortunately, like other school districts, we are struggling.”

Talawanda Middle School enrolls more than 700 students in grades 6-8.

Officials told Talawanda school families in an announcement that 36 percent of 8th graders had registered positive tests or had been ordered to stay home to quarantine because they were in possible, non-safe proximity to infected students recently.

“The spread of COVID19 within our eighth grade is very concerning,” said Theroux. “We need to stop the spread of COVID19. We are hoping a short-term closing will help stop the spread.”

And all eighth-grade sports and other extracurriculars are canceled for the same time period though students in grades six and seven will continue regular, in-person classes and extracurriculars.

The eighth-grade students will continue their lessons through remote learning, said Talawanda officials.

This week, the school system’s coronavirus online dashboard reported there were five positive student cases for the virus at the middle school.

But 80 students were also being quarantined, far more than the next highest school building total of 32 student quarantines at Marshall Elementary, which also reported five positive cases this week.

Among the teachers at Talawanda Middle School, there was one quarantine reported this week.

In Warren County, Lebanon and Carlisle Schools had temporarily closed in response to rising positive tests and quarantines among students but earlier this month both reopened.

The Talawanda Schools, which draws students from the city of Oxford and surrounding communities, last month adopted a mandatory mask policy for students, teachers and school staffers.