August 19, 2020
In-person instruction delayed as schools set to reopen August 24
Due to recent COVID-19 data related to school-aged children, LaRue County Schools will delay in-person instruction. During a virtual meeting August 10 with the Governor, Lt. Governor and Commissioner for Public Health, it was reported there had been a 40% increase in the number of children testing positive for the coronavirus. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report August 6 stating there had been a 90% increase in child cases during the four-week period of July 9 - Aug. 6.
When our reopening plan, Restart 2020, was approved by the LaRue County Board of Education, the CDC and AAP were recommending students return to in-person classes when schools resumed. At the time, data indicated children were a low risk and less likely to spread the virus than adults. Restart 2020 was developed based on information released by those two agencies, as well as recommendations from Lincoln Trail District Health Department (LTDHD). Based on what the data was telling us at the time, we were prepared to begin in-person instruction to reopen schools in the fall. The Board approved an alternate calendar along with Restart 2020 that allowed us to get children back in our schools August 24.
It is also important to note that I am in regular contact with LTDHD and monitor COVID data for LaRue County, as well as surrounding counties daily. Again, at the time our plan was approved by the Board through August 10, our numbers were favorable and we had LTDHD’s approval to begin with in-person instruction. While the numbers in LaRue County were slightly trending upward and we remained at “Community Spread” status, surrounding counties had been elevated to “Accelerated Spread” by LTDHD. As a result, they no longer feel it is in our best interest to have our students return to an in-person setting at this time.
AAP President, Dr. Sally Goza, stated in the report I referenced above, “In areas with rapid community spread, it’s likely that more children will also be infected, and these data show that.” AAP encourages districts and communities to address this issue on a case-by-case basis. Our number one priority for returning to school remains to preserve the health of our students, staff and community. As a result of the extraordinary increase in the number of children testing positive for COVID-19, as revealed in this most recent data, I feel it is in the best interest of our students, staff and community to suspend in-person classes while we continue to monitor the situation.
What does this mean?
School will still begin Monday, August 24, only not with in-person classes. All students will begin the school year with NTI (non-traditional instruction), meaning all classes will be conducted remotely. Restart 2020 includes a plan for intermittent closures. While we did not anticipate beginning the year with a closure, we were prepared for such an event and therefore, ready to implement it.
Because of our Board’s long-term commitment to provide an electronic device for every student, LaRue County Schools is in a better situation to deliver technological support to its students during NTI than other districts may possibly be. Each school has a plan for distributing the devices to students prior to the first day of school. Please visit the Facebook page or website for your child’s school for information on what that process will look like. You can also call the school or Central Office for information.
What is next?
We are currently scheduled to return to in-person instruction Monday, September 28. Please know, teachers, principals, Board members and I desperately want the children of LaRue County back in schools for in-person instruction as soon as possible. We recognize the numerous benefits that come from children being in school. We also understand and appreciate the hardships it places on our parents and families to not have students back to in-person classes. I will do everything I can to make that happen once I know our schools are a safe place for students and staff to be.
I will remain in communication with LTDHD and continue to monitor COVID data for our county.
I requested LTDHD change the way they categorize childhood cases to make it easier to adequately analyze the data of school-age children in our region. This will allow me to make comparisons to nearby school districts and make a better-informed decision about a safe return to school for our students and staff. If the numbers are favorable and we feel we can return to a safe learning environment sooner than September 28, we will.
Restart 2020: LaRue County Schools Return to School Plan was approved by the LCBOE July 20, 2020 and can be found on our district website.