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COVID-related changes, cancellations for students across Licking County

Parents of students across Licking County are facing some COVID-related changes or in some cases, cancellations.

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — On Monday, a rise in COVID cases prompted policy changes or cancellations for school districts across Licking County. 

Mask policies changed at two Licking County school districts and COVID infections were partly to blame for another district having to cancel classes altogether.

At Licking Valley Schools, students and staff did return after winter break, but not for long.

"We knew we had people positive for COVID,” said Dr. David Hile, Licking Valley’s superintendent. “But we also have people with the flu, we had people testing positive for flu A flu B, [and] there's a lot of sinus infections.”

Due to all different types of illnesses, including COVID, Dr. Hile said they did not have enough staff to open schools Monday and Tuesday. He said at some point soon they will reassess to see if they can open school Wednesday.

When it comes to masks, the district's policy has not changed. Right now masks are optional.

"We'll see what happens when we get back into school here and what happens with the cases and if we feel like we need to do that we will,” he said.

Meanwhile, mask policy changes took effect Monday at two other school districts in Licking County. According to the Granville Schools website, masks are required now and for the next two weeks, at least. Parents can expect an update from the superintendent by Jan. 21. 

In Licking Heights -- according to a letter to parents -- masks are now required for anyone in the buildings -- that includes fans at extracurricular and athletic events. Also according to that letter -- analysis of community data show "some of the highest rates of community spread in central Ohio."

“We anticipated a rise after the holidays it's kind of a perfect storm now with Omicron circulating here in central Ohio,” said Licking County Health Commissioner, Chad Brown.

Brown said tests are in high demand and the department is hopeful it can provide more, soon.

“We have an order for 10,000 test kits in to the state I'm not sure when those are going to come in yet. We're partnering with Licking Memorial Health System to distribute those and as soon as we get them in we'll get them out the door we're hopeful to get them any time.”

The department is also focusing on vaccination efforts, especially for children. Starting Tuesday, the health department will begin offering booster shots for ages 12 and older. It's also providing specific, localized data to help school districts make decisions as necessary.

"We'll do what we can to keep them open,” Brown said.

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