Union Local goes back to masks hoping to keep students in class

Belmont County

BELMONT COUNTY, OH (WTRF) — Earlier this week about 100 students were quarantined at Union Local Schools. That number has since dropped a little but now the superintendent has made a move to ensure more students don’t miss class. 

Current state guidelines say if you are in close contact with someone who has COVID, but masks are worn, you do not have to quarantine. So, at UL masks are now required throughout the school day as they try to slow the number of students in isolation. 

Five days after exposure, students can get a PCR test and come back to the classroom if negative on the eighth day. 

“Right now, we’re at 16 cases with over 70 students quarantined.” 

Ben Porter, Superintendent of Union Local Schools

The high school has only seen one positive case with five students quarantined. UL is really seeing the spike in Covid cases in the younger grades with 30 to 40 middle schoolers in quarantine.  

Last year, Superintendent Porter said spread was predominantly at home… but this year: 

“More spread within the classroom. For example: we had a classroom with five to six cases alone.” 

Ben Porter, Superintendent of Union Local Schools

Masks in the classroom have been heavily debated this year.  

Over in West Virginia, Brooke County Schools has moved to mask up starting Thursday in an effort, like UL, to lower quarantine numbers. 

Union Local’s Superintendent admits that last year the board might have been too cautious, but this year, they just want to keep kids in the classroom. 

Our teachers want kids to be in school.

We’ve had a lot of parents speak not in favor of the masks. That was our first board meeting. The second board meeting it as pretty much split; people speaking in favor of, people speaking not in favor of. But again, I give our community credit. They come, they voice their opinions and thoughts but they’ve done so very respectfully.

Ben Porter, Superintendent of Union Local Schools

Union Local’s School Board will meet in two weeks to assess if the masks will continue to be a requirement. 

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