MONMOUTH — Following an outbreak of COVID-19 among staff at Monmouth-Roseville District 238, including the district’s superintendent, the board of education is reversing course on its earlier decision for in-person instruction for the upcoming school year.
At a remote meeting Thursday, the board voted unanimously to switch to remote learning for the entire fall semester.
This reverses the unanimous vote by the board at an in-person meeting on July 16 to have in-school instruction five days a week.
Superintendent Ed Fletcher said the board reconsidered the district’s plan after he and other staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
"On a personal note, it made all of us realize how difficult any outbreak, regardless of how small, would be to manage during the school year," Fletcher said.
In addition to staff members testing positive, Fletcher said substitute teachers were bowing out of working in the fall due to concerns about the outbreak.
"When you start to add all of these things up, we realized that we would not be able to put forth an environment where we can ensure safety of our students and staff," Fletcher said.
Fletcher said several members of his family have also tested positive for the virus, and all are recovering.
"From my perspective, the virus is real," he said, noting that it has hit him the hardest. "I’m still having some lingering effects. Every day gets a little better."
Fletcher said the board reconvened to look at different variables following the outbreak before coming to a decision.
"They understand the hardship this causes our parents. We hope parents understand the reasons," Fletcher said, "At the end of the day, the biggest responsibility we have is to keep our students and staff safe."
All board members in attendance at the remote meeting Thursday voted to switch to remote learning, including Kevin Killey, Anita Sells, Cathy Froelich, Joe Bratcher, Nicole Trego and Dan Watson. Board member P.J. Brooks was absent for the special meeting.
Warren County saw an increase in positive COVID-19 cases last week.
Jenna Link, administrator of the Warren County Health Department, attributed the increase in cases to travel, gatherings among family and friends, and workplace issues.
No deaths related to COVID-19 have been reported in the county.