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COVID spike catches Lisbon McKinley Elementary by surprise

LISBON — McKinley Elementary School has reported 20 new Covid-19 cases among students and staff this week — the biggest spike in cases the school has seen all year.

Superintendent Joe Siefke said the increase in cases has come as a total surprise to the administration considering the protocol has stayed the same for the entire district all year.

Siefke said that as of Friday morning, there are two cases in the kindergarten class, one in first grade, one in second grade, seven in third grade, four in fourth grade and five in fifth grade. Three staff members also tested positive last week. The cases appear to be contained to the elementary school as there has not been any new cases at the junior and senior high school.

“This is the biggest spike we’ve seen all year. We just went seven or eight weeks with no new cases,” Siefke said. Before this week, there were two cases reported in April. Siefke said there is no clear answer as to where the spread started, but he believes the nice weather has played a prominent role.

“There are baseball games going on, birthday parties, people are outside enjoying the weather,” Siefke said. Based on the information he has gotten from the parents of the students, he doesn’t believe it has anything to do with the school or how they’re handling protocol. Siefke said he could not give an exact figure of the number of students quarantined.

While the increase in cases concerns Siefke and the district, he said it adds up to be 4 percent of the student population meaning that 96 percent of the students are healthy, and none of the positive cases have severe symptoms. The district discussed whether they should take further action and shut down in-person learning entirely for some grades, but he doesn’t believe it to be necessary at this time with four weeks left of school and the option to go remote.

Siefke reminds parents that remote learning is an option for the rest of the school year if they don’t feel comfortable sending their child to school. Students have had the option of remote learning since the beginning of the school year and can go remote for a day, a week, a few weeks or the whole year.

Siefke said that he understands the frustration that parents are feeling, and he sympathizes with them and their concerns.

“They’ve been great all year long, I just ask them to hang in there,” he said. “I know they’re tired of dealing with these things and I know the weather is getting nice and the kids want to go out, but we only have four weeks left and we just ask them to stay the course and help us get through,” Siefke said.

lnickel@mojonews.com

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