Lincoln students return to in-person classes

The novel coronavirus has caused many changes to learning since the start of the outbreak but this week, Lincoln County students will finally be able to return to in-person classes.

Things will still be a little different in the classroom as the school district continues to follow the state’s Healthy at School Guidelines, according to Communications Coordinator Brad Smith.

“When you arrive at school, you’ll have your temperature checked,” Smith said. “If you’re showing any symptoms or have a fever of 100.4 or higher, you should stay at home.”

Face coverings will also be used, Smith said.

“They’re going to do social-distancing the best they can in each room,” he said.

Smith said the state is no longer mandating six-foot distancing but suggests schools try to maintain social distancing as well as they can.

“Lunch rooms will still spread out as much as they can,” he said. “They’re going to try to make the days look as normal as they can and just keep people as separated and safe as possible.”

The district’s goal, Smith said, is to keep schools open five days a week until the end of the school year.

“We want to try to stay in that until the end of the year as long as there’s no recommendations or mandates that come down from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) or the Governor,” he said. “We’ve known all along it’s the best place for the kids.”

Smith said the district is excited to welcome students back to the classroom.

Moving forward, Smith said the district may be able to avoid shutting down the entire district if an outbreak occurs only in specific schools or grades.

“I think that would help,” he said.

It also helps that around 50 percent of Lincoln County School staff has been vaccinated.

“…which not only helps with the spread of the virus but also helps us not have to quarantine staff who have been vaccinated,” Smith said.

Now, if a faculty member were to come in contact with the virus, as long as they’re 14 days out from the second dose, they won’t have to be quarantined, which was a major hurdle for the district in previous attempts to reopen schools, Smith said.

“That’s a huge piece to hopefully be able to finish this year out,” he said.

Green Level Instruction
Lincoln County Schools will continue to follow the Healthy at School guidelines, Smith said, which includes best health practices recommended by Kentucky Public Health (KPH).

According to KPH, green level instruction means there is a minimal community transmission of the virus and in-person or remote learning should proceed.

KPH recommends schools continue social distancing, mask use, hand washing and sanitation.

The state agency also recommends limiting any nonessential visitors, volunteers and activities who are not from the local geographic area.

“At any level, if an outbreak is determined by the LHD (local health department), guidance may be provided to close a classroom or individual school,” KPH states.

Those students who chose to enroll in the Patriot Learning Academy (PLA) online will continue to learn virtually from home.

Smith said as of this week, 72.5 percent of students are back for in-person instruction and 27.5 percent are continuing with the virtual PLA.

SO YOU KNOW
Each day, the school district updates its “Lincoln County Schools COVID-19 Daily Report” which identifies the number of active COVID-19 cases in students and staff and categorizes them by school, as well as keeps a running total since the start of school on Aug. 26.

As of Monday this week, there were three active cases, one student at Lincoln County High School and two at Lincoln County Middle School.

In total, the district has reported 136 cases since the start of the school year.