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City schools announce extension… Decision based on high COVID Epi Curve in area

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
The Elizabethton School System has made the call on schools going forward for the next couple of weeks.
And while some still want to debate the decision, Director of Schools Richard VanHuss is making the tough calls that were placed on him by the Board of Education when selecting him as the new Director for the school system.
Parents and staff were sent another survey to complete last week and based not only on that survey but also on the health data for the local area, the school system made an announcement late Tuesday afternoon that schools will remain on its current hybrid schedule until September 18, 2020, at which time data will be re-evaluated.
The following press release was sent to local media by Nicole Moore, Public Relations Coordinator, on Tuesday in regard to VanHuss’s decision along with calls being made to parents and guardians of the city schools.
“Thank you to all staff and parents for taking the time to complete last week’s surveys. After compiling the information from the staff and parent surveys and continuing to monitor our health data, Elizabethton City Schools will remain on the hybrid schedule for the next two weeks through September 18, 2020.
“Currently, our COVID Epi Curve rate is the highest in Northeast Tennessee. This two-week period will allow for infection rates to decrease.
“As you know, we have had positive cases in our schools. The hybrid plan allows us to follow social distancing guidelines, which reduces the number of close contacts that must be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days.
“When we return to full in-person instruction, the number of contacts that would be required to quarantine will increase significantly.
“The school system will continue to re-evaluate the plan over the next two weeks. I assure you that the safety of our staff and students continues to be our number one concern.
“We understand the need to increase the amount of in-person instruction for all our students. We also understand that this decision places a tremendous strain on families, but we must implement a plan that focuses on the safety and well-being of all our students and staff.
“Elizabethton City School System added another layer of information last week to the district website by reporting positive COVID-19 cases in each school on the ECS COVID Dashboard.
“To access all Re-Entry Information and the ECS COVID Dashboard, please visit www.ecschools.net and ECS social media pages. If you have more questions or concerns, please contact your child’s school.”
-Richard VanHuss
The Star will continue to monitor decisions made by the school system in the upcoming weeks.
According to the current dashboard, there is one positive case at West Side Elementary, one at T.A. Dugger, and one at Elizabethton High School which is a decrease from three at the high school from the previous week.