Starting next week, barring unforeseen weather delays, all school districts in Whitley County will be back to in-person classes four days each week for students opting to attend in-person instruction.
Students at Corbin Independent Schools returned to in-person classes on March 1, and students with the Williamsburg Independent School District and Whitley County School District will be returning to in-person classes on Monday, March 8.
Corbin is offering in-person instruction on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with Wednesday being a virtual instruction day, and a day to give custodial staff an opportunity to perform more extensive cleaning and mid-week sanitation.
Williamsburg and Whitley County students will be attending Monday through Thursday with Friday remaining a virtual instruction day and a day for custodial staff to do additional cleaning.
Whitley County officials said that several key factors led to the decision to move to four-day per week in-person instruction, including Gov. Andy Beshear’s new executive order recommending that all school districts offer or expand in-person instruction starting March 1, and that the CDC is encouraging a return to in-person classes utilizing safety measures. Whitley County’s declining COVID-19 incidence rate over the past several weeks was also a factor.
Vaccinations of teachers also played a role for all districts.
By Feb. 26, all Whitley County staff, who were able and wanted the COVID-19 vaccine had received their second dose.
As of Feb. 25, 60 percent of Williamsburg staff had received their second COVID-19 vaccination, and some staff had received their first dose.
Most Corbin staff members received the second round of their COVID-19 vaccinations on Feb. 18.
Increased cleaning and sanitation will be the norm for all the local school districts.
Whitley County officials noted that their maintenance crew would routinely be maintaining and changing air filters in its ventilation systems.
“This includes flushing the air in our schools with large amounts of outdoor air. This will be done by running our HVAC systems an extra three hours each evening which should provide at least six air changes with outside air and remove airborne contaminants. Each morning the HVAC systems will run for one hour prior to students and staff entering the buildings to provide more time to flush out contaminants,” according to the Whitley County School District release.
Special COVID cleaners have been hired for each school with a focus on frequent cleaning of high touch areas throughout the schools each day, the Whitley County release noted.
Students and staff will continue to wear masks all day expect when eating and drinking, daily temperature checks and health screenings will continue. Social distancing rules will also be enforced, Whitley County officials said.
“It is our goal to return to school five days per week in-person if we find that we can safely do so. The four day per week schedule is a good way to determine our ability to safely return students to school,” the Whitley County release noted.
School officials are also encouraging parents to help monitor their children for symptoms of illness in their children, and to keep children at home if they are not feeling well and are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Both Williamsburg and Whitley County districts are encouraging parents to contact their children’s respective schools if their children are ready to return to school in-person next week.
Corbin students will be able to switch between all virtual and in-person learning at the beginning or end of the grading period, which will be around the first of April.