Calloway County Schools and Murray Independent Schools are moving all students to distance learning and suspending extracurricular activities starting next week.
Superintendents for the school districts in statements Thursday said the county health department asked schools to temporarily shut down and suspend extracurriculars to help limit the spread of COVID-19, and the county health department reported COVID-19 spread was increasing and becoming more random.
“While I regret having to make this decision, I’m confident that it is in the best interest of our community at-large and necessary for us to mitigate the virus spread so that it does not enter our school communities in a volatile manner. We will continue to monitor changes in trends and communicate decisions related to schools accordingly,” Calloway County Schools Superintendent Tres Settle said in a statement.
Both school districts plan to suspend extracurricular activities on Monday, Nov. 2, with students moving to online or non-traditional instruction beginning Wednesday, Nov. 4 through Nov. 13. Murray Independent Schools Superintendent Coy Samons in a statement said the district will continue to provide meals to children 18 years old and younger, and preschool and Head Start Centers in the district would remain with online learning until Nov. 30.
The Calloway Health Department on Wednesday reported 30 new COVID-19 cases in the county, pushing the total number of cases ever to 1,002. The health department also reported 141 are isolated with the virus, a significant increase compared to one month ago when 67 people were isolated on Sept. 28. As of Thursday, the county’s incidence rate of daily COVID-19 cases is 44.7 cases per 100,000 people on average, classified by the state as a “red zone” with “critical” spread.
State guidance recommends school districts with “critical” spread move to all-virtual learning. Both school districts declined to follow that guidance and recommendations by the local health department to move to virtual learning in early October when Calloway County’s rate of spread reached the “critical” classification. At that time, leadership at both districts were declining to follow local and state guidance because of the low number of coronavirus cases within the district. Both superintendents in statements maintain the number of COVID-19 cases within their districts remain low despite the move to virtual learning.
“Murray Independent has not experienced a significant increase in positive COVID-19 numbers on our respective campuses. However, the Calloway County Health Department has requested that we be proactive in lessening the spread in our community by pausing in-person instruction and halting all extra-curricular activities,” Samons said in his statement. “This is a difficult decision and one I do not take lightly. But at this time, believe it is the best decision for our students, staff, and community.”
Self-reported data by Calloway County Schools from Wednesday states the district has seven active COVID-19 cases and 50 people quarantined from potential exposure who are learning in person. Murray Independent Schools data as of Wednesday reports seven active cases among staff and students learning in person.