COVID-19 has once again brought in-person learning to a screeching halt in Webster County Schools after the district announced late Monday evening that all students would be switching to remote learning beginning Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Under the remote system, students will continue to have classes on their scheduled days, but those classes will be online. It represents a big switch for the district, which had 1,757 (82%) students participating in in-person classes last week.
Initially the district had intended to switch just Webster County High School to remote learning, a decision that was made on Friday.
Superintendent Rhonda Callaway said on Monday that the problem was not with actual cases of COVID-19, but with quarantines that had left the district shorthanded on staff.
“What happened is that last week we had a high school staff member who, through contract tracing, impacted a lot of people at that schools,” she stated, noting that although the connected staff members have not tested positive, state guidelines require them to quarantine for two weeks. “Today we had a similar situation at the middle school, which already has a small staff.”
According to the Webster County Schools’ COVID-19 Dashboard, as of Monday afternoon there were six students and three staff district-wide who had tested positive, but a total of 18 staff members across the district and 58 students were currently in quarantine.
Webster County Schools will remain in remote learning until Monday, Nov. 30.
Assistant superintendent Aaron Harrell applauded both staff and students for the adjustments they’ve made so far, especially at the high school which got to test the new remote model a day before their collegues around the county.
“By and large (Monday) went very well,” he stated. “Our attendance at the high school was great. I talked to one teacher who only had two students ready all day. They were all ready.”
Under the current state guidelines, anyone who has potentially been in contact with someone who tested positive is required to quarantine for 14 days. However, an individual who tests positive is only in isolation for up to 10 days, or until they test negative for the virus.
The decision comes a day after Hopkins County Schools made the same decision, and two days after the Webster County reached a new seven day high number of new cases at 48. That number passes the previous high total of 47, set on Oct. 6.
That seven day rolling average, which is used to determine a county’s status according to the state’s color coded scoring metric, is based on the average number of new cases recorded during the preceding seven days. That number is then divided by the county’s population of 13,111 and then multiplied by 100,000 to get the per 100,000 average.
At 48 cases, that is an average of 6.86 new cases per day in Webster County, or 52 cases per 100,000 residents.
Any county with a 7-Day average per 100,000 above 25 is considered a red county. Webster County has been in the red since briefly dropping to orange on Oct. 24 and 25.
As of Monday, Webster County was averaging 42 cases per 100,000, which put it ahead of both the national average of 33 per 100,000 and the statewide average of 39 per 100,000.
Contact Matt Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-667-2069