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Distance learning extended until after Thanksgiving break

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lark County Public Schools students won’t be going back into the schools until after the Thanksgiving break.

Superintendent Paul Christy had closed the schools last Thursday and Friday because of the high number of coronavirus cases in the county and had planned to reopen them Monday if the situation got better, but it didn’t.

Christy announced Sunday in a letter on the district’s website and social media that, because of a “marked increase in student and staff COVID-19 cases,” he was suspending in-person instruction through Nov. 24, the last day of classes before the Thanksgiving holiday. All classes before the break will be online.

The superintendent said he made the decision after consulting with the Clark County Health Department.

Schools will remain closed, he said, as long as Clark County is in the “red zone,” a designation meaning there are at least 25 cases per 100,000 population.

The county has been in the critical red zone since Nov. 10.

As of 5:30 p.m. last Friday, the county’s daily incidence rate was 29.15. Since March, 733 people in the county have gotten the virus, and there are currently 101 active cases, according to Health Department records. Forty people in the county have been hospitalized and 12 have died of the virus or related complications.

The numbers are not reflected on the state Department of Public Health’s website, kycovid19.com, until all local cases are confirmed at the state level.

“We will continue to monitor the community case numbers daily” and work with the Health Department “using COVID-19 daily updates regarding Clark County’s current status to assess what is best for the safety of all stakeholders,” Christy said.

On Monday morning, the school district announced that 62 in-person students, 77 all-virtual students and 69 staff members were currently quarantined.

As it stands now, students are supposed to return to classes Nov. 30, the day after the break, but the situation will be evaluated to determine whether that will be through in-person or virtual instruction.

“Student participation is still a requirement for attendance purposes,” Christy stated. “During this time, while in the ‘red,’ all winter sports athletic events and practices, extracurricular activities, and small group instruction in Clark County will be canceled. Staff will continue to report to their buildings at regular times unless individual arrangements are made with building administrators.”

Families may continue to pick up meals between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at any school location except the Preschool and Phoenix Academy. The meal schedule will continue regardless of in-person or distance learning.

Christy said in his letter that stopping the increase of local COVID-19 cases in order to provide students with in-person instruction “will require all of us working together as a community.’

He urged people to avoid crowds, stay at home when possible, wear masks, regularly wash their hands and maintain at least six feet of distance from others.

People can check Clark County Public Schools’ websites and social media accounts for updates and current school activity changes.

Throughout the state, many school districts have suspended in-person learning because of the rapid spread of the virus. In his press conference Sunday, Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky set a record last week for the number of new COVID-19 infections. The positivity rate for the state as a whole Sunday was 8.88 percent of those tested.

Currently, more than 1,380 Kentuckians are hospitalized because of the virus, 330 are in intensive care units and 156 are on ventilators.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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