Diocese of Covington Schools to Reopen to In-Person Learning Wednesday
UPDATE: Sunday, Nov. 29: A federal appeals court decided Sunday to allow Governor Andy Beshear's order to stand, closing all public and private K-12 schools. Read more about that here. Saturday's original story is below:
Diocese of Covington schools are set to resume in-person learning on Wednesday, December 2, following a victory in federal court over Governor Andy Beshear's order to close all schools to in-person classes through at least Dec. 14.
In an announcement, Diocese of Covington Superintendent Kendra McGuire said that while some diocesan schools have been closed in recent weeks due to COVID exposure, more than two-thirds of the thirty-seven schools in the diocese had no positive coronavirus cases among students or staff.
Beshear ordered the closure of all private and public schools due to increased COVID-19 cases across the state.
Throughout November, McGuire said in a letter to diocesan families, "we saw a substantial increase in the number of students and staff impacted by COVID-19. The majority of these increases were students placed in quarantine because a member of their family tested positive for COVID-19. We also saw many students quarantined due to exposure at gatherings or activities outside of the school setting."
Six schools were closed to in-person instruction over the last three weeks, three of which were shuttered due to a lack of substitute teachers or office staff to remain open.
"In the other three schools, we had a large number of students in quarantine which created teaching challenges," McGuire said.
Twenty-four of thirty-seven schools have had zero positive cases and over the last fourteen weeks, McGuire said, COVID cases are not originating in the schools and is also not spreading there "when the protocols are followed."
"We also found that the quarantine periods for cases and close contacts were effective at mitigating spread," McGuire said. "Therefore, despite the rising cases in our counties, we had decided our Catholic schools would remain open and we would continue monitoring each case and school community individually. As you know, the executive order changed these plans and we were obligated to follow the order. However, on Tuesday, November 25 , the portion of this executive order relating to private, religious schools was struck down.
"This means that our schools may return to in-person instruction and will no longer be in violation of the law."
McGuire said that some of the quarantines and positive cases involving Catholic students and staff could have been avoided "if all of our families would have followed the protocols."
"Since we all truly desire to sustain in-person instruction then we must recommit ourselves to the protocols," MCGuire said.
McGuire reiterated that sick students should stay home and that anyone exposed to COVID-19 or confirmed should have their household remain away from schools until a negative test is returned.
The diocese recommended the other now common mitigation efforts as well.
Diocesan schools will return to virtual learning on Monday and Tuesday following the Thanksgiving weekend break, and then schools may resume in-person instruction on Wednesday.
After-school extracurricular activities and winter sports practices will still be suspended until the week of December 14, McGuire said.
-Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Diocese of Covington offices in downtown Covington (RCN)