Dear Boone County School District Employees, Families & Students,
As we progress through this school year, I want to provide an update to you and address some concerns that have been recently expressed. Our central mission as a school district is to safely educate our students, and that mission has not changed.
During the past month, we have been very careful and deliberate in making a transition to an instructional model that provides more in-person instruction to our students. I want to acknowledge to our parents, students, and employees that these progressions are challenging, difficult, and stressful during the school year. In September, when we prepared to bring small groups of students in the transition grades into our buildings, there was significant concern and worry. When we started the A/B hybrid schedule several weeks later and brought more students into our buildings, we again saw concerns and worry. We were able to successfully work through those difficulties. With these steps, our district was able to build capacity within students, staff, and parents to effectively implement our safety protocols in each and every school. I am very proud to say that across our district we are doing a very good job of keeping our students and our staff safe. We are now ready to move forward again.
Over the last 5 school days, we have had 30 positive cases of COVID-19 amongst our students and employees. Our school district has approximately 23,500 students and staff, which is 0.128%. This is actually lower than the case percentage during the last two weeks of October. The percentages are also significantly lower than the cases in Boone County as a whole. We have demonstrated that we can keep our students and our staff safe; in actuality we have never had students enter our buildings as healthy and safe as they are now. Over the past 5 school days, 16 of our 26 schools, had no cases or one case with their students and employees. Our safety protocols are solid, they are working, and we can continue to build upon them.
According to the KY Department of Public Health (KYDPH), the Boone County incidence rate per 100k is 30.8 cases, a rate of 25 or above is in the RED category. Several people have understandably expressed the concern that we have not closed our schools as our incidence rate passed the 25 mark. As we learn more about COVID-19, we must adjust and sometimes change our approach as we become more informed. We want to be sure that we are considering more than one point of data so that we are strengthening our decision-making. As district leaders we have agreed that we will consider the daily metrics of COVID-19 and also the metrics regarding the academic and socio-emotion growth of our students. For school opening and closure we will look very closely at the metrics of COVID-19 in our individual schools. We will be precise in potentially closing a classroom, a grade level, a school, or a cluster of schools, but we will try to refrain from closing all 26 schools if possible. We communicate on a regular basis with our Boone County government leaders, the NKY Health Department, and healthcare professionals in our region. We will continue to evaluate and refine our decision-making as well as our procedures and practices to ensure that we have safe and healthy schools.
Our schools have a structured environment and the health and safety protocols being implemented in our buildings have never been more robust and consistent as they are now. Please understand that as long as there are cases of COVID-19 in our community, there are no strategies that can eliminate transmission risk in schools entirely. Our goal is to keep transmission as low as possible so as to safely continue school activities. We will eliminate issues and significantly mitigate the risks in our buildings and keep our students and staff safe by strictly adhering to the approved safety protocols:
- Parents keeping students home if they are sick or showing symptoms
- Temperature checks as student enter the buildings
- Mandatory mask-wearing by students and staff
- Social distancing as much as possible in all settings
- Washing hands or using hand sanitizer when moving from room to room
- Cleaning common surfaces in classrooms and other school spaces
- Quarantining students or staff that have been exposed to a positive case.
We also need everyone in our communities to understand that keeping our schools open must be a priority and their behaviors at home and in public can impact our ability to effectively educate our children.
In closing, I encourage each and every one of you to do two things. First, follow the safety protocols every day that I just reviewed. Doing so will keep you, your family and community safe AND it will help your schools to stay open. Second, support your teachers and everyone in your schools in the challenging, complex, and exhausting work they do every day. Whether it be a kind word or an act of service – they all need your support.
Matthew L. Turner
Superintendent of Schools