Caldwell County schools returned to its original COVID-19 hybrid plan on Monday in light of the increase of COVID-19 cases in the county.
The plan — announced by former Superintendent Nate Huggins in July — is based on how parents wanted their children to take instruction. For those who wanted their students to have in-school instruction, about half of them would go to schools on Monday and Wednesday, while the other group would go on Tuesday and Thursday, with Friday being an at-home instruction day for all students.
Interim Superintendent Heath Cartwright posted a message to parents on Oct. 27 to the school district website.
“When a county is classified as a red county, the ‘guidance to assist school officials in determining the mode of instruction’ (guidance from the Kentucky Department of Public Health and the Kentucky Department of Education) is to ‘suspend in-person learning for the following week’ as well as school-related athletic and extracurricular activities,’ ” the letter stated.
“It is up to each school district to determine whether to close schools and move solely to virtual instruction. During the times when Caldwell County has been red, it has been because the average of actual new positive cases throughout the county has been approximately 1-2 additional positive tests a day more than what would have allowed the county to be orange. While each positive case in our community is of concern, we are looking at many different pieces of data to try to make the best decision possible regarding school.”
Cartwright told the Times Leader that Monday was a day of at-home instruction for all students and schools were closed Tuesday for Election Day, allowing staff to disinfect schools.
“That gave us extra time to get the buildings to be cleaned and to get the extra furniture out of the rooms so there would be more space to socially distance the kids,” he said.
Wednesday and Thursday were in-school days for those taking in-school instruction, and Friday was an at-home day for all students. Caldwell County schools will go by the original hybrid schedule starting this Monday.
“What we’re seeing in COVID activity in our schools — either with positive cases or quarantine — we’re seeing a decline in that,” he said. “We will continue to watch that, because while we see a decline in activity in our schools, we’re currently seeing an increase countywide.”
The Pennyrile District Health Department reported Friday that 181 Caldwell County students and school staff were in quarantine, with 16 being isolated. It also reported that 30 Lyon County students and staff were quarantined with one of them in isolation.
Caldwell County had the second-highest incidence rate of COVID-19 in Kentucky on Wednesday and Thursday (the most recent date of information before press deadline), with incidence rates of 82.9 and 72.8 cases per 100,000 people, respectively.
The highest county rate on both days was Monroe County in south central Kentucky, which had 110 and 124.7 cases per 100,000 people, respectively.
A county’s incidence rate is measured over seven days and is an average reflecting the number of new cases in that county per 100,000 people per day over that seven-day period.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health gathers the information and provides it to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Public Services, which compiles it and creates the color-coded COVID incidence rate map.
Counties listed at the red or critical level have more than 25 cases per 100,000 people, while counties in the orange or accelerated level have 10 to 25 cases per 100,000 people. Counties in the yellow or community spread level have 1 to 10 cases per 100,000 people, while counties in the green or on track level have less than 1 case per 100,000 people.
On Thursday, there were two of Kentucky’s 120 counties at the yellow level — Owen and Russell — and no counties at the green level.
This week, according to information provided by the Pennyrile District Health Department, Caldwell County has confirmed 64 new cases of COVID-19, with 11 of those being of school age (5 to 18). That accounts for more than half of the total cases in the health district — which includes Crittenden, Livingston, Lyon and Trigg counties — and 68.8% of the school-age cases in the district.
In that same time period — Monday through Thursday — Crittenden County has recorded 12 new cases (one of school age), Livingston County has confirmed 16 new cases (three of school age), Lyon County has had 14 new cases (one of school age) and Trigg County has cited 17 new cases (none of school age).
As of Thursday evening, Caldwell County has reported 351 cases of COVID-19 this year, with 257 of those recovering and no COVID-related deaths, leaving 96 active cases in the county.
Crittenden County has had 191 total cases with 168 recovering and four COVID-related deaths, leaving 19 active cases, and Livingston County has had 155 overall cases with 124 recovering and one COVID-related death, leaving 30 active cases.
Lyon County has had 134 total cases with 101 recoveries and five COVID-related deaths, leaving 28 active cases, while Trigg County has had 276 cases this year with 234 recoveries and no COVID-related deaths, leaving 42 active cases in that county.
In the five county district, there have been 1,1089 cases with 884 recoveries and 10 COVID-related deaths, leaving 215 current active cases in the district.