The return date for Hancock County Schools will be Aug. 26, according to Superintendent Kyles Estes.

Estes said unlike some surrounding areas, HCS students will be on a five-day schedule, but can choose an in-person or virtual learning option.

Estes said while reopening guidance is being updated almost daily, schools are planning social distancing for students returning to in-person classes. He said right now, the district is estimating about 22% of students opting for virtual learning, although that is only accounting for the 50% of students that have been enrolled thus far.

Enrolling students, he said, is critical right now and will help schools determine social distancing measures in the classroom.

“We need that feedback to determine the decisions that are going to continue to be made,” Estes said.

Schools are planning for a five-day schedule per week, differing from surrounding districts like Daviess and Breckinridge, mostly due to differences in population, according to Estes.

“One of the questions that has come up is the decision of in-person five days versus in-person and an alternating schedule … looking at each of those areas differently is the population,” he said. “In Hancock County, we’ve got a student population of a little under 1,700 students. Daviess County, for instance, (has) 10,000. They’ve got one school that is the same size of our entire district, so when it comes to getting students in and out of those buildings, with that significant of a population, social distancing becomes extremely problematic.”

Large communities also tend to have a higher infection rate than Hancock and other smaller communities.

To help keep students and staff safe and healthy during the school year, Estes said there will be hand sanitizer, masks and hand washing stations available in schools. There will also be signage and hall-markers to encourage social distancing and one-way foot traffic. Students will have temperatures taken before entering the school and will be required to wear masks.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@mcleannews.com, 270-691-7360

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