Oldham County Schools students return to in-person learning

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Oldham County Schools will bring middle and high school students back five days a week for classroom instruction once the district returns from spring break in April, Superintendent Greg Schultz announced Friday.

Schultz, in a letter to families, cited the county's declining COVID-19 incidence rate for dropping its hybrid schedule for middle and high school students who have selected the district's in-person learning option starting April 12.

As of Thursday, Oldham County's COVID-19 incidence rate was 14.3 new daily cases per 100,000 residents based on a seven-day average.

"This plan has endorsement from the Oldham County Health Department and we will continue to follow Kentucky’s Healthy at School Guidelines, including temperature checks, masks, and social distancing to the best extent possible," Schultz wrote.

"With increased attendance, distancing and classroom configurations will fluctuate. We plan to utilize additional rooms and spaces during lunch to ensure 6 foot distancing of students."

Amanda Coombs said it's been difficult for her son, a middle schooler, to toggle between in-person and online learning on the hybrid schedule.

"He's autistic, so finally being able to go back is amazing for us," she said. "Getting that consistency is going to be life-changing for him, because he just has to have it. He has to have that structure."

Eighty-five percent of the district's students will be in-person. The remaining 15% of students will finish the school year in the virtual academy.

"Based on where we are now, we're just in a really, really good spot," said Schultz, adding that cases inside school buildings are at an all-time low. "We have zero staff on quarantine due to a school issue, and in the last couple of days, we only had one or two positive student cases."

Schultz said social distancing will happen as much as possible, although it is not feasible in every situation.

"Six feet will be hard to maintain during instruction, but we will be fully masked at that time," he said. "There will be rooms where we have six feet and rooms where we have more like three feet."

However, six feet will be mandatory during lunch, as students remove their masks to eat. Schultz believes some state guidance regarding social distancing could change to less than six feet if cases continue to decline through the spring.

"Returning to school full time was terrifying, but in the same aspect, I couldn't live in that fear," said Coombs. "It's all about (kids') mental health at this point."

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