ELWOOD — Plans for Elwood Community Schools to reopen Thursday remain on track after Superintendent Joe Brown sent an email to parents Monday saying district officials were notified over the weekend that an unidentified staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
“We worked with this individual and the Madison County Health Department on determining close contacts,” the email said. “Individuals within close contact will be quarantined for 14 days in addition to the staff member. We will continue working collaboratively with the Madison County Health Department throughout the pandemic.”
Elwood Community School Corp. is the first district in Madison County and surrounding communities scheduled to reopen for the 2020-21 school year after all school buildings in the state were closed down at the start of the pandemic. To date, only Anderson Community Schools and Daleville Community Schools have adjusted their calendars.
Tuesday was the first day back to work for Elwood teachers.
Brown told The Herald Bulletin that district officials are relying heavily on medical experts at the state and county level for guidance.
“They are comfortable with us opening,” he said.
Corie Lovell, ECS board of trustees president, said he’s not certain which building the staff member works in primarily or how many other district staffers may have been among close contacts because of HIPAA privacy laws.
“I couldn’t tell you if it’s a janitor or a teacher,” the father of an incoming senior at Elwood Jr.-Sr. High School said.
However, the district had not yet had its beginning-of-the-school-year meetings with staff, he confirmed.
Like most schools and districts in the county, Elwood’s COVID-19 response, including in-person and virtual instruction options depends on the spread of the novel coronavirus, characterized by the health department as low, moderate or high. As of Monday, the spread was considered low, meaning district officials consider it safe to return to in-person classes.
“We’re still going to stick with low, but we’re going to take extra precautions,” he said. “If that means not opening, that’s what we’ll do. We’re watching this hour by hour.”
However, anything can change before Thursday, Lovell admitted.
“The possibility of not opening? That is always a possibility. That’s always on the table, depending on what happens, This is all fluid. Every day changes,” he said. “We’re as uncertain as anybody else. We’re worried, just like anyone else.”