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Prospect Charter closes classes for grades 4-8

Prospect Charter School announced on Monday it would close in-person learning for its fourth- through eighth-graders for the rest of the week. But the superintendent has since informed the newspaper instruction in a classroom will return next week as planned.

The charter school, about an hour northeast of Medford, made the announcement on its Facebook page late Monday, citing a “high volume of sick students,” recent COVID-19 cases, close contact exposures and staffing issues.

Its pre-kindergarten through third-graders and ninth- to 12th-graders were not affected by the recent developments, the Facebook post read.

Prospect’s superintendent, Brian Purnell, added more clarity to the situation in an email late Wednesday. He wrote that the school has a fourth and fifth grade combination class and saw one person with a COVID-19 case last week, leading to some students being quarantined.

By Monday, Oct. 11, a few more said they were feeling sick, dwindling the cohort down to about 50%.

The school reached out to all of the families impacted to asked about the sick kids’ symptoms, and it turns out none of them had the main ones associated with COVID-19, according to Purnell.

“As a precautionary [measure], we felt it would be best to finish the week in Distance Learning so students could stay home and rest,” the superintendent wrote. “All students will be back in school next Monday. We have worked with Jackson County Public Health throughout this process.”

Instruction for grades six through eight were not impacted by COVID-19, Purnell added. He attributed the decision for them to learn from home this week because of staffing issues. The school was not successful in getting substitute teachers to Prospect while multiple middle school teachers were under quarantine.

The good news, according to Purnell, is that the school does not have a single middle school student in quarantine.

“That is why sports are still going,” he wrote.

Many of Prospect’s middle school volleyball and football programs still went on as planned, according to the school’s Facebook post earlier this week.