Grayson County Schools on Thursday addressed a number of rumors circulating about COVID-19 cases in the school system, as well as how the district is responding to the pandemic.
During Thursday evening’s regularly scheduled Grayson County School Board meeting, Grayson County Schools Superintendent Doug Robinson opened the discussion by explaining the procedures by which the district determines whether it may continue to offer in-person education in the face of the coronavirus.
According to Robinson, the Kentucky Department for Public Health and Kentucky Department of Education have released a color-coding metric to school districts, which set recommendations for the best mode of education based upon the number of COVID-19 cases reported.
Counties in green status are not at risk; counties in yellow status may have in-person learning with “heightened mitigation factors or remote learning ” counties in orange status “must take additional mitigation steps and prepare for possible remote learning only as determined by school administrators in consultation with public health officials ” and counties in red status are recommended to “immediately suspend in-person learning for the following week.”
According to the description of the color coding metric provided to Grayson County Schools, the recommendations accompanying the various color levels are not requirements, and officials noted that levels can change quickly. On Thursday, Grayson County had shifted from a yellow to an orange county, according to a post on the Grayson County Health Department’s Facebook page.
“Just because we’re in the red doesn’t mean we’re going to pull the plug,” Robinson said.
To keep the community informed on the status of the virus in the school system, Grayson County Schools has added a COVID-19 reporting dashboard, which is updated daily, to its website.
As of Thursday, the most recent update prior to press time, Grayson County High School had reported two confirmed positive student cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as well one on Wednesday and one on Tuesday.
According to Grayson County Schools, through contact tracing, the Grayson County Health Department notified those identified as school contacts who will need to quarantine, which means they have come into contact with someone who tested positive but not necessarily tested positive themselves.
An individual who has been within six feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes is considered a contact.
Additionally, on Wednesday, GCS reported that a Wilkey Elementary School staff member had tested positive for COVID-19 and had last reported for work on Tuesday. In light of this case, the health department recommended that all students in one classroom and two other staff members quarantine (14 quarantines in total).
On Monday, it was also reported that two positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed from the period during fall break, one from Lawler Elementary and one from Wilkey.
Robinson said that these reports show the rumors of around 30 positive cases in the schools and “two sports teams knocked out” as a result of the virus are “far from the truth.”
With Grayson County Schools’ in-person education currently on the A/B block schedule and in consideration of the number of positive cases and quarantines, Robinson sought the school board’s input Thursday night as to whether the district should return to holding in-person classes five days per week sooner or later.
The original intent was for the schools to do so at the end of this month; however, Robinson said that the district’s principals favor remaining on the A/B block schedule longer as it is easier to keep students six feet apart and helps to keep quarantines down. He added that ensuring students remain six feet apart from one another will be nearly impossible should all students return to in-person classes at once.
School Board member Alfreda Weedman said she is inclined to have the schools continue to stay on the A/B block scheduling until Thanksgiving break, an option which her fellow school board members favored, as well.
Robinson said that while the district would rather have all students back in the schools, maintaining the A/B block scheduling may be the best option to ensure in-person classes can continue at all for the time being.
Grayson County Schools’ online COVID-19 reporting dashboard can be found at graysoncountyky.apptegy.us/o/district/page/covid-19-reporting. There is also a direct link to the dashboard from the home page of GCS’s website, graysoncounty schools.com.