Greetings Campbell County Families,
Presented below is my weekly COVID update, providing important information about our COVID numbers, school status and other items of interest. I would like to invite you to read this information at your earliest convenience.
County COVID Incidence Update:
Based on February 17th numbers, our county COVID rate is 29.3 incidents per 100,000 people, down from 42.1 last week! It's nice to be in the 20s and I am looking forward to getting out of the red zone. The current overall state rate is 23.8/100,000 which has fallen from a rate of 38.7 /100,000 last week. Both our local numbers and the state numbers are improving greatly.
District COVID Data - Current:
Listed below is our updated positive/quarantine list, by school. Our student and staff quarantines, and our staff positives are all down from last week, which is great! Our student positives have decreased from 17 to 13, during the past week. We only have two staff positives. I am also pleased to see the number of student quarantines drop down into the double digits (63). That number was up over 300 before Thanksgiving.
Current School Programming:
We are continuing to move forward with our Hybrid Model next week.
Proposed Change to School Programming:
As you may have seen in my presentation to the Board of Education on Monday evening, I am working with our district team to pivot from the hybrid model to a full-time, five-day model while still allowing families the option of the all-virtual model. Please watch the presentation from Monday night. The previous Board of Education link should take you to the point in the meeting when this topic was discussed, at approximately 18 minutes.
There are five key pieces of logic that surround my decision to consider this move:
- Staff and student quarantines have decreased significantly, as has the state incidence rate. We are about to fall out of the red zone. Both the district and state incidence rate was up over 85/100,000 in December/January. I am only showing you a snippet of the district Covid data we track every week, and what I know based on our contact tracing and following up on quarantines, is that VERY FEW of the staff and students placed in quarantined have been; one, quarantined due to a school exposure, and two, when they were quarantined, very few went on to become positive. Most returned back to school and work, completing their quarantine time, without ever becoming positive. Most of our student quarantines and many of our staff quarantines resulted from being exposed via athletics, when an exposure to a positive person or player required the quarantine of whole teams, including coaches.
- Masks are working! Infection transmission has been limited in parochial schools and in Ohio and Indiana schools, for which many have been open and operating within six feet of social distancing for most of the school year.
- Staff will be fully vaccinated after this weekend. This is a key piece as I need to keep our staff safe and because staff positives and quarantines were the most significant impediment to our operation in the fall. We had to shut down two schools in November due to staff quarantines.
- Ultimately, I feel confident that we can provide safe programming, inside of six feet, as long as we remain consistent with mask wearing. We will still need to monitor our numbers, and I would still recommend a pivot back to the hybrid if our incident rates, and student quarantine numbers started to show a large and fast upswing. But, because we are tracking all of these numbers, we can react when it appears that numbers are increasing.
- Finally, I am only willing to entertain the five-day option as long as an all-virtual option remains for our families. It is important to recognize that those who want to be in school five days are assuming an increased level of risk, knowing that students will participate inside the recommended six feet of social distancing. We are providing the family choice for which so many of you have asked! For those who are not willing to assume the additional risk, we are still providing those children with an education, but provided synchronously through our virtual model. As long as we are navigating this pandemic, the all-virtual option will remain intact.
To generate more specific information regarding this potential pivot to a five-day model, I am requesting that parents complete a SURVEY to help me with the final decision. One of my biggest concerns is that we may have too many students who want to come back, even out of the all-virtual model after spring break, making it difficult to feed students, with enough space to take masks down. I also need to know what the actual desire is to move to a five-day model. This survey will help with my information gathering and student placement if the move commences. Please know that I will hold you to the selections you make in the survey, so answer carefully. And again, please recognize that we will continue to permit students to move, at any time, into the all-virtual model. However, the new selection of the all-virtual model will be a commitment through the end of the school year. I ask that you complete the survey for each of your school-aged children (excluding preschool) by Monday, February 22nd at 5 pm. I do not want to make the survey available to the general public so I will email the survey link to each guardian with my notification of this weekly post.
Monday, February 22nd Will Be All-Virtual:
Campbell County staff members will receive their second vaccine dose on Sunday, February 21st. I am expecting between 10 and 20 percent of the district staff, including substitute teachers and bus drivers, to be sickened from side effects to the extent that they will not be able to work on Monday.
I know we have had a lot of all-virtual days the past two weeks related to the weather which makes this decision tougher. I do not want to close school on Monday, pushing our calendar further into June so I am electing to utilize an all-virtual day on Monday to address the likely sickness expected to occur. That way, those who can work and provide instruction will, and those who need to take a sick day, can, without impacting the district operation. I want parents to be aware of this, in advance, so you can plan.
I know there is a LOT of information in this week's post. I hope that it is presented in a clear manner, answering questions you may have. If not, please feel free to email me or your child's principal, with any clarifying questions.
Thank you and have a great evening!