HILLSBORO, Ohio — As health departments work to stop COVID-19 from surging in the Tri-State, a Hillsboro family thinks schools need to relax attendance rules.
Highland County has been under a red alert advisory for two weeks straight. Hillsboro City Schools announced last week they were tracing a case of COVID-19 at the district’s elementary school.
Amy Ballard’s nephew goes to Hillsboro Elementary.
“I’m confused about how they’re handling things and I just wanted to let my city know,” Ballard said.
The Hillsboro School District provides online classes to grades six through 12. Kindergarten through fifth-grade students — like her nephew — must take in-person classes.
“They told my sister, send him even if you know he’s got a low-grade temperature. Send him if he’s got a fever within the past three days and when he gets here, we’ll decide, because we’re that concerned about his attendance,” Ballard said.
According to the Ohio Department of Education, school officials must intervene or file a complaint with juvenile court if a student misses 42 or more hours a month without a legitimate excuse.
“It should be up to the parent,” Ballard said. “I think criminal charges should be set to the side for at least the next few months until we can figure out how this is going to affect everybody indoors.”
Hillsboro City Schools superintendent Tim Davis would not comment on this case, but said the district does not have plans to consider offering online classes to more students.
He referred WCPO to a letter that lists safety procedures in place to protect people in the buildings. It includes temperature checks, masks and social distancing. He sent the letter to parents last Monday, informing them of the positive case of COVID-19 at the elementary school.
The letter told parents “cleaning and disinfecting of the exposed locations have been completed. Hillsboro City Schools will remain open at this time.”
Ballard thinks there needs to be more adjustments to help parents and students feel safe.
“In the middle of what's going on here, I just think the new norm has to be adjusted, too. I think them trying to threaten people with criminal charges with live covid at their facility right now, it makes me really upset to think about how they would even begin to handle an outbreak,” she said.
The Highland County Health Department said 521 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the county since March. Of those, 395 have recovered, 12 have died and five people are currently in the hospital.