Covid-19 Rears Its Ugly Head As Fall Semester Is Underway

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
A couple of football games at Warsaw High School have been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns with opposing teams. However, after Sherwood Cass R-VIII School District cancelled a game with Warsaw that was to be played Friday, September 18, an alternate team from Tipton stepped into the slot. Warsaw Wildcats won the game 52-26. It is expected that alternative schedules may be the norm for this season.
Warsaw R-IX School Superintendent, Dr. Shawn Poyser, said that he is open-minded about possible scenarios for the district. 
“It depends on how many coronavirus cases occur in each building,” said Dr. Poyser.”At our professional planning day, September 21, we began getting ready for distance learning, and putting together a curriculum for that plan, if it is necessary. We are getting positives from testing, but the necessity for quarantine is more of a problem than the positives. Our schools are doing a fantastic job of following CDC guidelines and they are working closely with the Benton County Health Department (BCHD).” 
The Director of Nurses at BCHD, Tammie Heimsoth, said that the health department is advising anyone who is sick to stay home. Heimsoth along with her “sidekick” Nurse Brooke Daleske, have an intricate system of tracking those exposed to COVID-19 within the schools. Daleske is the contact person and all schools have her phone number. The team is working seven days a week to keep up with all of the aspects required to keep schools safe.
“We monitor how close students are sitting to each other in schools and on buses,” said Heimsoth. “Everyone wears a mask, and even athletes wear them up until they have to run. Schools are doing a fantastic job following CDC guidelines, and often, when a positive test occurs, it is because of  activities outside those at school, such as a student spending the night at a neighbor’s house.”
Heimsoth said that if anything happens to the schools, it will probably be because of the lack of substitutes. Most of them are retired and considered at risk. Heimsoth said the schools are struggling.
Cole Camp R-I Schools Superintendent Steve Hubbard said that the district has had no trouble yet. He said that there are a couple of active positives and some quarantines, but the school as a whole is doing okay. No football games have had to be cancelled, but some volleyball games were missed. 
“It is a small school district, and it is often just luck that things have not been worse,” said Mr Hubbard. “You can pick out two or three kids who show up positive and it could shut down everything. Our kids are involved in so many things. We mandate masks, but it is harder on athletes and they get hit hardest.”
Superintendent Kevin White at Lincoln R-II School District said that there have been no positive cases as of September 21. He said that some family members of students have tested positive for the virus, and has required quarantine for the students. But, there have only been about 15 to 20 students out of school per day.
Michelle Kreisel, mother of twin daughters at Lincoln High School, said that school was very different for her girls this year. They have been taking some Launch online classes that they were not able to schedule at their school or because the subject matter was not offered. But, they are back in school, physically, and are glad about it and realize that they had missed it.
“One of the differences that they have seen is eating lunch in the cafeteria once a month, and eating lunch in the classroom the rest of the time,” said Kreisler. “They are a little disappointed at some of the changes in activities, but they are focused on getting ready for college. As a mother, I realize that I have to wash masks all the time, and sometimes the girls have to wear a disposable mask if others are not clean.”
Sarah Beaman, School Counselor at Lincoln Elementary School, said that she thinks, over all, that students have handled the change at school like rock stars, at least on the outside. 
“I think the main reason they like coming back to school is to see their friends,” said Beaman. 
“Ultimately, we will be able to see how they feel on the inside about the changes. The new safety rules are kind of a novelty to them. Some enjoy wearing different masks to match outfits, and some like getting to wear super hero masks.”