During the Lincoln County School Board meeting that took place on the evening of Thursday, August 27, a motion to make alterations to some of the provisions in the reopening plan laid out several weeks ago was passed.

The alterations took the form of eliminating certain protocols from the plan entirely. The most significant of these eliminations was the removal of the provision that would require the school system to make sweeping changes based on the percentage of active COVID-19 cases in Lincoln County. As previously reported, a key part of the school system's initial plan was to set 0.5% and 1.0% actively infected population as checkpoints at which all schools would move into stage two and stage three protocols, respectively. Stage two would have taken the form of a hybrid plan, whereby groups of students would alternate the days on which they attended in-person, and stage three would have mandated that all students attend virtually. With these checkpoints now removed from the plan, the school is at liberty to make decisions on the basis of individual schools -- "school by school," as it was phrased in the meeting -- and the status of the school system as a whole, with no dependency on the rise or fall of positive COVID-19 cases in the county at large.

Additionally, the phase two hybrid contingency has been fully removed from the plan.

According to Superintendent Dr. Bill Heath, these decisions were made after four weeks of school operation, during which it was found that the schools could function safely without the protocols that the board moved to approve. "We don't make changes without seeing what's needed in the field," said Dr. Heath.

Dr. Heath also emphasized a decision that has been previously made in discussing these changes -- the designation of LCS employees as "critical infrastructure" -- clarifying that under no circumstances will the designation be used to force employees to work when sick.

More details on the school board meeting will appear in the September 2 edition of the Elk Valley Times.