Carmel schools prepare for virtual learning scenarios as COVID-19 cases climb


As COVID-19 cases have risen in the community in recent weeks, Carmel Clay Schools is also seeing a record number of cases reported among its students. 

During the first week of November, CCS reported 19 cases at Carmel High School, 10 cases in the middle schools, 10 cases in the elementary schools and eight cases among teachers and staff. The weekly totals at the middle and elementary schools were weekly records, and the high school number was the highest since it reported 22 cases the week of Aug. 16. The weekly totals at CHS had been in single digits since then. 

Dr. Michael Beresford
Dr. Michael Beresford

CCS Supt. Michael Beresford said contact tracing shows that the spread is not primarily happening within schools but at small, private gatherings. 

He told the school board during a Nov. 9 meeting that administrators are continuing to work on plans to quickly pivot to all-virtual learning for a grade level or school if necessary. He said that could happen if a school has a concentrated number of positive cases, a high number of students from a single school are quarantined at the same time or a high number of cases among staff members makes in-person learning too difficult. He said the district is “extremely short on substitute teachers.” 

“We’d like to get some more people on our sub list,” Beresford said. “That could assist us in keeping our schools open.” 

Beresford said if a school or grade level is forced to go virtual it will most likely be because of the high number of students in quarantine. Most students quarantined after a possible exposure at school have not developed COVID-19, he said. 

Beresford said CCS officials have been in contact with the Hamilton County Health Dept. almost daily to to reassess the situation as conditions change. 

“We are doing everything we can to follow the rules and stop the spread and also educate our kids at the highest level we can,” he said. “We’re working on contingencies, because if this trend continues we can’t be naive and think it’s just going to go away.” 

Beresford and other public health officials have attributed the recent rise in cases to fatigue as the pandemic drags into its eighth month, with relief not expected in the immediate future. He urged Carmel the Carmel community to continue practicing measures known to stop the spread of the coronavirus, such as frequent hand washing, wearing a mask and physical distancing. 

See the weekly CCS COVID-19 totals at