In a letter to parents Monday (Nov. 16) regarding the district update on COVID-19 cases, Chagrin schools Superintendent Robert Hunt announced that he tested positive for virus and will be entering quarantine.

“I feel it necessary to share that I will be included in the number of positive cases for our staff,” he said in his letter. “I began experiencing symptoms last week. I will be following current [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and Ohio Department of Health guidelines regarding isolation and continuing to perform my duties remotely while monitoring symptoms.”

Dr. Hunt said he had not been in contact with any other members of school staff or administrators in the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District and did not know at the time of his letter where he may have contracted the virus. Due to a family member who has a pre-existing condition, he said he has consistently worn a mask in public and has limited social gatherings per state orders.

“We are unaware of any direct contact with an individual that has been positive,” he said. “This speaks to the seriousness of this virus.”

Dr. Hunt said he still plans to move forward with in-person instruction, with plans for the all-in model to go in effect tomorrow (Nov. 17) for kindergarten through sixth grade at Gurney Elementary School and the Intermediate School. Schools were closed today for Gurney and the Intermediate School due to a scheduled records day for teachers, according to the district website.

In a special board of education meeting last week, Dr. Hunt had made the official recommendation to continue moving forward with plans for all-in instruction at the start of the trimester for the elementary level students.

He said concerns of spacing and the effect of quarantining, as of last week, put a “pause” on sticking with January being the right timeframe to bring grades seven through 12 back to an all-in model next semester. He said a “dip” in cases from now until then could change this, noting an all-in model at the current rate of cases in the community could put “hundreds and hundreds” of students in quarantine at the middle and high schools.

“I am extremely proud of the efforts of our staff in providing the opportunity for in person education for our students and remain committed to thoughtfully moving forward based on the data and information within our schools,” he said in his letter.

The most recent update as of Monday of the district’s DOVID-19 Dashboard is from Nov. 13 and shows 16 cumulative student cases, which includes 11 active cases of students in the isolation period and eight new cases. The dashboard also shows seven cumulative staff cases, not yet including the most recent update with Dr. Hunt. This includes three active cases under quarantine and three new cases. New cases are included in the counts for active cases and are not in addition to active cases.

Dr. Hunt closed his letter by encouraging the community and school to “remain vigilant in implementing the necessary health and safety protocols.”

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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