ELKHART — COVID-19 cases and close contacts are continuing to ease at Elkhart Community Schools, school officials report.

Superintendent Steve Thalheimer gave an update during Tuesday night’s board meeting. He presented a handout that showed the weekly number of positive cases from students and staff, the total number of positive cases and close contacts and the ratio of close contacts and positives.

For the first few weeks of school, the district was seeing four to six students out per student that had close contact on average, he said.

“Some of those were up in the 30s and 40s in terms of students that were out,” he said.

But with the way numbers are trending now, post-Labor Day, Thalheimer said the district is trending to where there are about 50 positive cases within the district and 80 close contacts.

“So, we’re down to under two students out on average per close contact for each positive,” he said.

Last week, the district reported 77 confirmed cases of COVID among students, 14 confirmed cases among staff members and 173 identified close cases. This week, as of Wednesday, there were 43 confirmed cases among students, seven confirmed cases among staff members and 86 identified close contacts, according to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The school district earlier this month implemented a mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors inside the district’s buildings. Thalheimer said following this approach puts the district in the position of having fewer students out of school or enforcing stricter rules for students who are close contacts.

“By doing what we’re doing and seeing the trend that we’re on, we’re in a good position to keep many students at school, which is the ultimate goal which we’ve gauged the success of what we’re doing here,” he said.

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