COVID Update - October 28, 2020
We have experienced a rapid increase in active COVID cases in Pratt County--as I write this, we have 45 active cases. At this time, there is little clustering, so it would appear we are in a stage of “community spread.” Right now, we have 2 cases within our staff/student population. For this reason, the Pratt County Health Department is not recommending that the school system move beyond our current Amber pandemic zone rating…yet. However, our school community needs to be prepared for a potential shift to Orange…or even Red…in the coming week. Again, at this time, that is only a possibility.
Our primary goal is to avoid COVID-19 case numbers that put our healthcare resources at risk. At this time, Wichita hospitals are reaching capacity with COVID cases. Regionally, hospitals are edging towards capacity as well. 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.
If we move to Orange, students in grades 5-12 would be split into two attendance groups, so we could maximize social distancing in the classroom. In short, those students would attend with ½ of their peers and see teachers on one day. For the alternating day, they would complete learning assignments remotely. Grades PreK-4 would continue with normal attendance because they are organized into stable groups. If we would have to fall all the way back to Red, students would be learning remotely (similar to our experience in the 4th quarter last school year). If we make this move, there would be direct communication with parents from building teachers/administrators to explain procedures.
Recently, there was a study published, which had Pratt (along with 20 other counties) doing remarkably well (a lower percentage of active cases) relative to the state and the nation—obviously, the study was completed before this week. Our county and others’ experiences show that diligence to safety protocols makes a positive difference, but there is still risk, especially if we lose our fidelity to important practices. We will post that video and a screenshot of the numbers on the website and our Facebook page. Warning, the video will get into some fairly high level statistics. Link to video
I do believe our students have done remarkably well with safety protocols during school and extracurricular activities. 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.
Pratt Schools USD 382