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Athens goes virtual

School will close doors for two weeks due to COVID-19

Superintendent Jeff Mastin on Sunday announced Athens Public Schools will be closed for 14 days to allow students and staff who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine and get well.

All Athens public school students will begin virtual learning from their homes this Thursday, Oct. 8, until they return to in-person school on Monday, Oct. 19.

Mastin said Athens School District has had four staff members, including a coach, who have tested positive for COVID-19. These staff members have had “first level contact” with approximately 83 students and 14 staff members who now need to be quartantined.

The superintendent said the school’s COVID-19 situation promises to get worse before it gets better.

“We had more staff and students showing symptoms, so our numbers could increase further,” he said.

Mastin said Athens public school buildings are tempo- rarily closed to protect students and staff from COVID-19.

“We have done everything we can to model safe practices in our schools, yet the virus still reached Athens and hit us hard last week and this weekend,” he said. “In order to allow everyone to remain safe and virus free, we believe it is safest to error on the side of caution and move to a temporary twoweek virtual learning model, which will allow us time to clean and sanitize our schools so we can open back up on Monday, Oct. 19, with a full population of students and staff who are all alive and well.”

Dean Frick, principal at Trinity Lutheran School in Athens, said the school’s three-year-old Kindergarten through fourth-grade students is still attending in-person school. Trinity’s fifth through eighth grade students began virtual instruction from home on Monday and they’ll return to in-person school on Oct. 19.

“Our decision to do this was based on the middle school volleyball team’s exposure to the coronavirus,” Frick said on Tuesday. “We were prepared to start virtual instruction right away on Monday because we were able to have several students join us virtually last week while they stayed home for other illnesses.”

Luke Knoedler, principal at St. Anthony de Padua, said Monday the Catholic parochial school would remain open to in-person learning.

Athens High School varsity fall sports are postponed until in-person school resumes on Oct. 19. Athens Middle School sports, however, are no longer happening this fall.