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COVID Update - October 2, 2020

Greenback Family,


We revisited our gating criteria with the Pratt County Health Department and I want to relay the background and our thinking.


Our primary goal is to avoid COVID-19 case numbers that put our healthcare resources at risk.  We also want to avoid numbers that become unmanageable for the community.  Nothing is guaranteed, but the data shows that the student age groups are at much less risk for serious health repercussions from COVID.  However, there is a wider community health concern to protect.


With that, as we crept potentially close to Orange—this last week we had several worrisome symptomatic individuals that tested negative, so we stayed solidly Amber—we discussed the gating numbers with the Pratt County Health Department, especially those numbers regarding active cases.  We widened our Amber zone, as we could see that our county could absorb some higher numbers and still be positioned to have our healthcare resources intact and still maintain overall safety.  We pushed the ceiling up for Orange as well.  The updated criteria are on the website under the COVID-19 tab.  Again, this was all done in consultation with the Pratt County Health Department.  The short answer is we want to stay in school if we believe we can still be safe for our community.  I want to commend our local doctors and our Health Department for their efforts to keep us safe and take a common sense approach.  Obviously, folks take some hits from both sides (those that want more restrictions and those that want less) but I believe we have excellent people keeping the best interest of the community in their focus. 


But, our status can change quickly.  Abilene, for example, has 212 students in quarantine in its high school.  It is now in remote.  Hutchinson is going Hybrid.  Derby cancelled football.  There are obviously others. Our students are doing what it takes to keep us moving forward.  During the school day, they are fantastic.  Respect is one of our core values along with Team.  I believe the essence of respect is putting someone or something else before you.  As they say, “respect the game”…that means you never put yourself above the game itself.  The ability to be humble is built into respect.  Our students have demonstrated that ability and willingness to put others above themselves.  That is a trait of quality people who will contribute and be successful.


As adults, we can mitigate the risk of a quick spread (where 1 case quickly turns into 25) that could force a shutdown of schools or the suspension of activities.  We have common sense options that we can each take to put ourselves in the most likely position to keep our numbers down—in football terms, we are the 12th man.  If we do that, our kids stay in school, and our athletes stay on the court, course, or field.



Tony Helfrich


Pratt Schools USD 382