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More Southern Indiana districts head back to school as more students test positive for COVID-19

School leaders are stressing the importance of the classroom: "For the neediest of our children, we have to try"

HARRISON COUNTY, Ind. — As another southern Indiana student tested positive for COVID-19, hundreds more returned to school Wednesday. 

At least four Greater Clark County schools have reported positive cases within the first week of school. A Charlestown Middle School student was reported to have tested positive on Wednesday, as Jeffersonville High School resumed classes. North Harrison Community School District also started the school year Wednesday. 

"We're very excited about the return of kids," said Superintendent Dr. Lance Richards. "I feel like North Harrison can do this."

Richards said the buildings have been deep cleaned, disinfectant and hand sanitizer is in buses and buildings, and students are grouped to limit exposure. All students are required to wear face coverings, and desks are spaced out in the buildings. 

"It's been a daily and weekly adjustment as new news came out and new guidance came out," said Richards.

Around 18 percent of students elected for virtual learning with the district according to Richards. 

North Harrison Community Schools are following the same plan as South Harrison Community School District and Lanesville School District. According to Richards, the three districts developed the back to school plan with the health department.

Lanesville has already seen 4 positive coronavirus cases in the first week of school and currently has around 50 students in quarantine.

"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when we will have to deal with COVID cases in our school community," said Richards.

Still, Richards said the positive cases at Lanesvillle is proof their plan can work. 

"One good thing that came out of that is that we can see that the system worked," he said. "They were able to track those children, do the contact tracing and be able to remove them from the setting. Because it's very important that the people that we have on our campus feel safe and secure. And that's not just students, that includes staff."

Richards praised his staff for their ability to adapt to changing protocols and keep students safe. 

"We're all in this together," he said. "The protocols that we follow at school have to be carried forward in the home so that those kids can return to our schools safely."

So despite the daily challenges of starting up school in a pandemic, Richards says it's worth trying. 

"For the neediest of our children, we have to try," said Richards. "If we get a month down the road and we're just not able to pull it off, we will have at least made our best effort for those children."

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