Newcastle Public Schools transitioning all schools to distance learning after several COVID-19 cases, hundreds in quarantine

Coronavirus

NEWCASTLE, Okla. (KFOR) – Newcastle Public Schools is switching all schools to at-home learning to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Melonie Hau, Superintendent of Newcastle Public Schools, issued a public notice stating that all Newcastle school sites are going to distance learning after moving just some sites to distance learning failed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Based on the continued number of cases within our school community, we are transitioning all school sites to distance learning,” Hau said in the notice.

Students at all four school sites will start learning from home on Wednesday, Sept. 23, but will return to school for face-to-face instruction on Monday, Oct. 5.

The switch to at-home learning includes the Early Childhood Center, which previously had a Sept. 29 return to school date.

School officials from each school site will provide parents information on how students can access lessons from home.

Also, meals will be served through the school district’s pick up line for all school sites at the elementary school from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

School officials are evaluating the availability of Kid Zone. They will send an update as soon as they know they can safely reopen the program.

“I know these decisions put stress on families. We would rather be in school for face-to-face instruction, and we were able to have five successful weeks of students being in classrooms with their teachers,” Hau said. “I am confident that we will provide the same responsiveness and care while your students are learning from home. Our teachers and staff have proven that we are committed to your children and we will do whatever it takes to make sure they continue to learn.”

The school district has had several COVID-19 cases recently.

“As I reported last week, we have had numerous positive COVID-19 cases since Monday, September 14. We continue to receive reports of positive individuals, including students and staff,” Hau said.

The school district currently has 27 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and 392 individuals in quarantine.

“Of those positives, 6 are at the Early Childhood Center; 3 are at the elementary school, 5 are at the middle school; and 13 are at the high school,” Hau said.

The City of Newcastle reported 41 active cases on Tuesday, the highest number of active cases reported since the pandemic began in March, according to Hau.

The Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention recommends that community members take the following measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
• Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve.
• Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
• Stay at home, if possible.
• If you must go out, practice social distancing, leaving at least six feet between you and other people.
• Avoid gatherings that include more than 10 people.

The CDC lists the following recommendations for those who have had close contact – within 6 feet for approximately 15 minutes – with an individual who has COVID-19:

• Stay home until 14 days after last exposure and maintain social distance (at least 6 feet) from others at all times
• Self-monitor for symptoms
• Check temperature twice a day
• Watch for fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
• Avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
• Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop

The following is Superintendent Hau’s entire notice to parents:

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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