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Nearly 40% of Waverly students and staff were absent on Thursday as the district closed its doors on Friday for a deep cleaning.

WAVERLY- Absences due to COVID-19 caused the Waverly City Schools District to announce it will be returning to virtual learning this week.

In an address sent out to Tiger families on Thursday, the district said 39% of its students and staff were not in the classrooms on Sept. 9. Earlier this week, Waverly High School postponed its homecoming celebration originally scheduled for Oct. 2

“As much as we have tried to sanitize and social distance, our COVID numbers have increased,” the district’s post, shared on Facebook, reads. The Tigers’ football against Chillicothe scheduled for Friday was also cancelled.

After a Friday closure to clean the halls, all students will be remote learning from Monday, Sept. 13 through Friday, Sept. 17. When students return the following Monday, Sept. 20, masks will be mandatory.

Waverly students, while not in-person, will continue learning either through packets for preschool through fifth grade or by Google Classrooms for students in sixth through 12th grade.

Packets will be delivered by bus on Monday, but students that do not take the bus can pick up their assignments that day between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. from their building.

Students on the food delivery list from the previous school year will again receive their meals this week. The district says parents and caregivers can add their student to that list by calling the school office at 740-947-4770.

Data from the Ohio Department of Health shows the case increase came mostly through students. last week alone, 40 new student cases were reported which brought the total since the beginning of the school year to 62.

Waverly, as Pike County’s largest school district, does have the most cases of all county schools — 66 including staff — but others are not far behind. According to ODH, the Scioto Valley School District had 39 student and three staff cases as of Thursday. The Piketon-based district has 60 cases cumulatively.

Scioto Valley has required all students and staff to wear masks as of last Thursday, Sept. 2. The reason, Superintendent Wes Hairston said in a letter, was to slow the number of quarantines in the district.

“It is our goal to have our students here everyday to maximize their opportunities to have academic success and to grow socially and emotionally,” the letter found on the district’s website reads.

The spread of COVID-19 has reached other neighboring schools, the Portsmouth Daily Times reporting the closures of Portsmouth City Schools for this week and Washington-Nile Local School District early last week.

Outside the hallways, the Pike County General Health District reported 75 new cases on Thursday. With active cases above 420, it was the fourth consecutive report with more than 400 cases — four times as many cases reported on Aug. 17.

Of those 423 cases, 123 or 29% were under the age of 18. That same age demographic has a vaccination rate just above 10%, which is below the county rate of 39%. Both measures are beneath the state averages.

Contact Patrick Keck at pkeck@newswatchman.com or by phone at 740-947-2149, ext. 300431 and follow him on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

Patrick Keck is the Editor at the Pike County News Watchman.

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