Following the announcement that Washington Middle School (WMS) will be closed this week, Washington Court House City Schools (WCHCS) Superintendent Dr. Tom Bailey released a letter Tuesday to students and parents updating the situation.
On Monday, it was reported that WMS will remain closed until Monday, Oct. 19 due to several individuals within the district testing positive for COVID-19. It was the second educational building to be closed in recent weeks — the first being the Fayette Christian School.
In the letter, Dr. Bailey emphasized the district’s efforts to continue to do what is best for the students and said the update comes as Fayette County Public Health concludes its contact tracing and has notified all quarantined individuals.
“First and foremost, there is no evidence that there has been any community spread of COVID-19 in the school,” Dr. Bailey wrote in a letter that was shared on the district’s Facebook page on Tuesday. “The fact is that there is such widespread infection in Fayette County that it is difficult to determine where the staff or students who are positive contracted the virus. With that being said, I am pleading with our school community to stay home if you are not well.”
Bailey wrote that many of the cases in the district are a, “direct result of negligence of coming in contact with others, even after one is sick. ” He then recounted how he was also diagnosed with COVID-19 in August and that he remained at home despite having minor symptoms because, “…the implications for others may be catastrophic.”
“Employees and students who are sick must remain at home,” Bailey wrote. “I do want you to know that we will look at each situation individually to determine the best course of action to take. I still stand by my conviction that our schools need to be open for students. However, in light of the number of teachers and students who are positive combined with the number quarantined, it was best to close Washington Middle School for one week.”
The goal — Bailey explained — is to open the school as soon as the district can, knowing that protocols are being following to keep students and staff as safe as possible. He goes on to say that not everyone will agree with wanting to open the school again, “…however, our parents/students that feel compelled to learn online have that option.”
“However, if schools are closed what option would our 75+ homeless students have to for a warm, dry environment?” Bailey asked in his letter. “What option would our hungry students have that miss two meals each day? What option would our students that have no one at home to encourage them to complete academic work have to grow intellectually? These are difficult times and difficult decisions must be made. Divisive and hate-filled rhetoric is spewed on Facebook each day toward school districts everywhere, however districts are working harder than they ever have. Teachers and administrators have not dealt with any of the issues we are now facing. I appreciate your understanding and grace as we continue to navigate these difficult situations.”
Following this letter were two more letters that confirmed two COVID cases at Washington High School (one student and one non-teaching classified employee) and four cases at WMS (two teachers and two students). This information was confirmed by Fayette County Public Health this past Sunday, according to these letters.
Finally, each additional letter explained how the students and staff can help reduce the spread. Tips include social distancing by staying at least six-feet apart, staying home if sick, wearing a mask while in public or around people not usually at the student’s/staff’s home, avoiding unnecessary gatherings, avoiding sharing food, drinks or utensils, washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and covering coughs and sneezes.
The information in this article was provided by Washington Court House City Schools. Stay with the Record-Herald as more information becomes available and for updates of COVID-19 in Fayette County.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy.