Last week, Lincoln County Schools resumed operation, half of the student body attending on Monday and the other half on Tuesday. While those students were not required to attend for the remainder of the week, staff were on the job, preparing the plans for school procedure that were announced on Wednesday, January 6.
The announcement of procedure for the new semester came in the form of a video featuring Dr. Bill Heath, who began by outlining the current status of LCS operations. Via a poll issued to students and staff on January 4 and 5, LCs administration was able to identify the current saturation of COVID-19 in the school system. The poll resulted in the following figures:
District-wide positive cases: eight PreK-8 staff are positive; five LCHS staff are positive; 15 PreK-8 students are positive; and four LCHS students are positive.
District-wide quarantines: 12 PreK-8 staff are quarantined; three LCHS staff are quarantined; 56 PreK-8 students are quarantined; and 17 LCHS students are quarantined.
Dr. Heath appended these figures by stating that the numbers seen above are “definitely the result of things that happened over Christmas Break, assuring viewers that the cases are unrelated to school procedure.
Heath then pivoted to a discussion of the operational status of the various institutions within the school system, explaining that the transitions to virtual learning that occurred during the fall semester were largely influenced by whether or not a given school’s infrastructure was overburdened by quarantines, and not due to a raw sum of positive COVID-19 cases. All schools within the system are currently classified as operational; however, Lincoln County High School is specifically classified as “operational with limitations.” LCHS’s unique classification is elaborated on below following an explanation of some of the changes being made to school procedure.
Once providing the operational status of the schools, Heath explained that the school system now has four options available for how they would like to manage attendance and education. The two new options are variations of the hybrid attendance option that was considered early in the fall and provide some intermediary steps before transitioning a school to full-virtual education.
The first of the two new options is referred to as “A/B,” and functions by designating Mondays and Tuesdays as in-person for students whose last names begin with letters A-K and designating Thursdays and Fridays as in-person for students whose last names begin with letters L-Z. Wednesdays would be reserved for students in need of additional assistance.
The second of the two new options is “Modified Virtual,” whereby schools will be closed on Monday and Friday and labs and assistance will be available at those schools on Tuesday and Thursday during the hours of 11-8 and 12-3. Lunch would be provided under this option, but bus routes would not be active.
Heath went on to express confidence that these new options would greatly aid the school system in avoiding any further scenarios in which the school system would go full-virtual, saying, “That full virtual setting is only going to be used if somebody in the governmental agencies above Lincoln County, whether that’s at the state level or the national level, mandates that we are in a situation in which we cannot go to school for any reason.”
Notably, all parents retain the choice to have their child educated in a fully virtual setting at any time during the semester, regardless of whether virtual education is mandated.
All schools in the LCS system will, at time of this issue of the EVT’s print, have already begun in-person learning except for LCHS, which is beginning the semester with the “A/B” schedule described above, pursuant to LCHS’s “operational with limitations” status. LCHS will remain on the “A/B” schedule until January 29, at which point their status will be reassessed.
Data on the active number of cases and quarantines will be considered on a daily basis by the school system, and the status/procedure of any LCS school is prone to change as a result.