Columbia schools to return to pre-Thanksgiving schedule

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The Columbia School District announced Thursday that its students would return to in-person learning using the same approach the district used before Thanksgiving.

That means students in grades five and under will all attend school in person from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every day, while students at Columbia Middle School and Columbia High School will resume their hybrid schedule.

“They’re coming back exactly like they left,” Superintendent Chris Grode said.

The district has used remote learning this week at the recommendation of Monroe County Health Department Administrator John Wagner, who said the novel coronavirus had become so widespread in the community it would soon be impossible for the district to maintain the necessary staff.

Wagner gave the return to in-person instruction his blessing because it appeared the district had plans in place that would allow it to continue operating.

“I have not been concerned with the spread at the school itself. As far as the safety of the kids, I’m very confident we’re doing the best possible job at the schools,” he told the Republic-Times. “It’s whether can they continue to keep it staffed and continue to keep us informed of contacts, close contacts and stuff like that with the numbers being that high.”

In its announcement, the Columbia School District reminded parents of the “mitigations that will allow us to remain open.”

That includes wearing a mask, frequently washing your hands, self-isolating after travel over the holiday break, quarantining if you feel sick, notifying the district of any illness and honestly completing the COVID-19 symptom checklist.

“We are asking for parents to follow the health department guidelines and quarantine themselves as we come back and try to stay healthy over the next few days of break,” Grode said.

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