School officials backtrack on all-virtual until October, bring students back into classrooms this week

Posted September 23, 2020 at 1:04 pm

It was reported last week that Clinton County Schools would suspend in-person classes until October 12, but due to a decline in recent COVID-19 cases, Clinton County School resumed in-person classes on Wednesday, September 23.

When in-person school was postponed last week, the School Decision Index (SDI) was at a record high for Clinton County at 8.9. The number of cases put Clinton County in the red zone for number of cases per capita.

As of Monday, that number has decreased to 3.8, with 15 active cases in Clinton County, zero staff in isolation due to a positive test, zero staff in quarantine and six students in quarantine.

That number dropped again by Tuesday morning to 2.2, with 11 active cases in the county and five students in quarantine.

Isolation is when someone has tested positive for COVID-19, and quarantine is when someone has had contact with someone who has tested positive, As of Monday morning, both of those numbers are zero for staff members at Clinton County Schools.

Superintendent Dr. Tim Parson said he didn’t think the county would recover as quickly as it did and he had to look at what was best for the students of Clinton County when making the decision to return to in-person instruction.

“The whole time you are trying to walk the line of you are trying to be courageous for our kids, but you don’t want to be stupid,” Parson said. “Trying to figure out where that line is, is hard to know. We haven’t had any problems in the school itself. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever, but the county had an outbreak and I feel like we are on the downside of that.”

On September 11, the Clinton County Judge/Executive’s office reported nine positive cases which in turn saw the SDI number rise.

“For our county, that’s a big deal,” Parson said. “With those numbers dropping back off and the worst part looking like it’s over, I hate to make shifts and change the plan. It would have been easy to say we are already out until fall break, so let’s do it. On the other hand, if we are wrong about how long it takes the county to get better, then the kids are the only ones who don’t benefit if we aren’t in school. It’s really about what’s right for the kids.”

Parson said as a parent, if the numbers got to single digits as far as cases were concerned, he wouldn’t understand why the students were still out of school.

“That’s the thought process,” Parson said. “We are going to do the best we can. I’ve been talking to some of our doctors this morning and we are probably going to shrug off some of the days that are like outliers (if we have a day with a lot of cases), because that will actually put you in the red for a week if you have one big day.”

Even if there is another day where cases rise by a high amount, Parson said the school is going to try and hang on and push through it for the time being.

“We are going to try and hang on and be a little more bold and courageous about staying in,” Parson said.

The Lake Cumberland District Health Department is reporting that 14 percent of COVID cases in the district are from school aged children.

“If you talk to counties who have kids who are positive, they aren’t the kids who are in-person,” Parson said. “They aren’t catching it at school and the kids who have it aren’t in school in-person. It actually looks like the kids who are virtual are catching it at a higher rate than kids who are in school maybe because they are doing other things during the day like going to other places …”

Parson seems to believe what Clinton County is doing as a district is working for the time being.

“Looking across the state, kids aren’t getting it at school,” Parson said. “That’s not to say it won’t happen, but right now it’s just not happening. All the mask, hand sanitizer and cleaning is working. Some of the districts, when they get to the red, they are still riding it out. Like Warren County and Bowling Green. It doesn’t look like in-person instruction is having an impact on it.”

Sunday afternoon, Parson released on social media that in-person instruction would resume on Wednesday. Parson said not only does he like to give the parents of the students a little notice, but his staff as well.

“It’s hard to be a teacher right now,” Parson said. “If you are a middle or high school teacher particularly, you’re teaching kids who are in-person, you are teaching kids who are home, you’re teaching kids who are kind of back and forth, so it’s really hard to be a teacher. I try to give them a couple days to try and get their mind set.”

Parson said the decision all year and in the future will be made with the kids as the priority.

“The kids are the priority,” Parson said. “Kids are first then our staff comes second. Sometimes what’s best for kids is not always easy for staff, but it’s the right thing for kids, we have a group of people who are willing to do it.”

As far as sporting events are concerned, Parson said the football game has been rescheduled to Thursday, October 8, which will take the place of Clinton County’s game against Lynn Camp that was scheduled for Friday, October 9.

The Clinton County Volleyball team was set to host the All “A” Regional last Saturday, but that contest was rescheduled for this Saturday, September 26, at Clinton County High School.

Parson said in the future, games might be played without fans if that is an option in order to keep the schedules the way they are and not have to reschedule any games.

“That’s probably an option moving forward,” Parson said. “That’s nobody’s favorite option (to play without fans), but if it completely about kids, then it might have to be agreeable at some point if we get in bad shape again.”