Ada City Schools Superintendent Mike Anderson announced Thursday the district's plans for switching to distance learning for the week of Nov.16-20, which, combined with Thanksgiving break the week of Nov. 23-27, creates a 14-day quarantine for the schools to address the continuing coronavirus pandemic crisis.

"At the present time, there are ten active positive cases across the district among teachers and students. We currently have 210 staff members and students who are actively quarantined," Anderson said.

"I think it’s important to note that we are still not seeing a spread of COVID-19 in our schools," Anderson added. "At this time, with the possible exception of one case which is under investigation, there has not been anyone who has tested positive as a result of a close contact at school. Our methods and protocols have been successful in limiting the spread of COVID inside our school buildings."

"However, due to the increasing number of cases in Pontotoc County, we are beginning to see the number of COVID related quarantines increase in our schools," he continued. "The Pontotoc County Health Department has been consulted and all possibilities have been considered. 

"While experts still believe that the virus is not spreading through our schools, there are no satisfactory answers for the reasons behind the significant increase in cases throughout Pontotoc County. The consequences of a substantial number of quarantines is beginning to have an impact on school operations. Our ability to provide the type of instruction that we are all accustomed to and have come to expect is being compromised.

"Therefore, due to the continued spread of COVID-19 in our community and an increase of close contact quarantines, all Ada City School sites will move to distance learning beginning Monday, Nov. 16th and continue through Friday, Nov. 20," Anderson said.

• Beginning Monday, Nov. 16th, all Ada City School students will be expected to complete distance learning attendance requirements and classwork daily.

• Distance learning coursework and attendance requirements for all Ada City School students will continue through Friday, Nov. 20.

• In-person learning will resume for all Ada City School sites after the Thanksgiving break on Monday, Nov. 30.

• Cougar Academy students will continue with their classwork and schedules as normal.

• All programs and/or extracurricular activities that are in season, or in preparation for winter seasons (basketball and wrestling), will proceed as scheduled.

• Students should be reminded to take their devices and instructional packets home with them on Friday.

• Arrangements can be made for parents to pick up any necessary medications by calling the specific school sites.

• Hot grab and go meals (breakfast and lunch) are available -- Monday, Nov. 16 through Friday, Nov. 20.

• Hot grab and go meals will be served curbside from 11 a.m. to noon at Willard Grade Center on North Center Street and Ada Junior High School on Stockton Street behind the cafeteria.

• LatchKey will not be in operation during the weeks of Nov. 16th through Nov. 27th, including the Thanksgiving break.

"This was obviously a very difficult decision" Anderson said. "However, I firmly believe that this decision gives us the best chance to continue with in-person learning over the long-term.

"Some of you may ask why move to Distance Learning now instead of after the Thanksgiving Break As of today, every individual in our district who is impacted by COVID-19, will come out of isolation or quarantine prior to our return to school date on Nov. 30th. 

"And if all of us do our part over the next few weeks, there should be very few individuals that will be required to quarantine upon our return to school. By paying strict attention to the 3W’s -- Wearing your mask, Watching your distance and Washing your hands, we believe that a safe return to school can occur after the Thanksgiving Holidays."

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