Solon Superintendent Fred Bolden reported to the Board of Education last week what he called good news associated with a drop in COVID-19 cases in the district, with the trend of lower reported cases continuing.
That being said, positive reports for the surrounding Solon and Glenwillow community are still higher than they were at the start of the school year, he noted.
Last week, Mr. Bolden reported two cases of COVID-19 from that prior weekend, one student and one staff member “which was a low for the weekend.
“Usually, we see more,” he said. “We are seeing a drop in cases in the 44139 ZIP code, (but) we are about double the number of cases we had prior to the start of the school year.
“It is still quite high, but those numbers are declining when we were at triple and almost quadruple the number we started the school year,” he said.
Over this past week, the district has had three students and two staff members test positive for COVID-19.
Mr. Bolden continued that the Cuyahoga County Board of Health officials indicated the number could come down after COVID-19 cases hit a peak.
“But unfortunately, that means we are keeping the masks now [for grades 7-12],” he said. “It has a positive impact on keeping our cases down.
“We are doing everything to make sure that even though kids are wearing masks, we can have the most normal year possible in terms of activities going on,” Mr. Bolden added.
“We believe the multi-layered approach we are taking is having a positive impact on our school cases,” Tamara Strom, communications director, added. “As a result, we will keep our current protocols, including masks being required for all students, staff and visitors, in place for now.
“We want to keep our students in school, and we have upcoming student events and programs that we want to continue without a backdrop of rising cases of COVID-19,” she said.
Mr. Bolden said that Solon school students “are having so much fun [this year] and are so happy to be around each other.”
He said wearing the masks and practicing social distancing will help keep school memorable and exciting. He noted that homecoming is approaching, as well as plays and band and choir concerts, among other events.
“All of those things we have been doing have been happening this year in the safest way possible,” Mr. Bolden said.
He continued that nearly 80 percent of all people eligible within the district have been vaccinated.
“We are in a good place and want to keep that going,” he said.
Board President Julie Glavin asked Mr. Bolden if the board of health has a benchmark where they will make changes.
Mr. Bolden said the biggest things they look at to determine change is case counts as well as vaccination status.
“We are not saying you have to get vaccinated or not,” he said. “That is not something we are involved with. That will be above us, but those two things will help determine those recommendations.
“They have not given specific indications of those numbers,” Mr. Bolden added. “Legislation might happen.”
For now, the district continues to “stay the course,” Mr. Bolden said.
“Last week was great and this week is shaping up to be better,” he said to the board, adding that he is “cautiously optimistic.”
The district continues all the elements of its mitigation protocols, including distancing throughout the schools as well as extensive daily cleaning and sanitizing procedures in all of the buildings and on the buses.
Ms. Strom added that, as the district has done since the start of the school year, they are prioritizing in-person learning and extracurricular activities for students.
“We have modified some attendance procedures at in-person events, such as homecoming and concerts, to create as much distancing in the audience and at the events as possible,” she said.
For example, the homecoming pep rally will be held outdoors in the stadium on Friday (Oct. 8) to enable all Solon High School students to participate in this time-honored school spirit event together.
“We are also simultaneously live streaming our upcoming orchestra, band and choir concerts in addition to allowing families to attend in person with more limited ticket availability to create spacing in the auditorium,” Ms. Strom added. “All of these adaptations are being implemented to provide students and families with opportunities to participate in important school events in as safe a manner as possible.”