It has been just about two months since I told you that if anyone had a shot of starting school up without major Covid consequences, it would be my little corner of the world. I'm here to report that things are not going well.
Back on September 7, the number of cases for the whole county, since March, was 70. People were not panicked, but cautious, with the usual outlying groups of deniers and total freak-outers. Okay, lots of deniers--this is Trump country, and at this point locals know that there are some stores you avoid if you take masking seriously. Our four school districts went ahead and opened, with two choosing a sort of gradual "soft" opening, and the other two just going for it.
By October 15, the number of cases had doubled. Two of the four high schools had had two cases each. One shut down to clean for 48 hours; the other sent forty students to isolation. Everyone's sports are still going on, but with limited audiences.
Yesterday, the state said we had our highest single day total--46 confirmed cases. I'm sure that's nothing in major cities, but we've got fewer than 50K in the whole county. And our totals are probably lagging because there is no place to go get tested in this county.
That brings our grand total to 359. As you can see, we're escalating quickly.
In schools, things are going poorly. At my former district, somehow, they managed to expose the entire administration team, so all administrators and most of the main office staff have been in isolation. This week the district has gone to virtual school. Two weeks back, an entire fifth grade team was sent into isolation. In another district, three teachers have just tested positive. The state has met with several local superintendents, and schools are going to the hybrid model next week; one administrator has already told his people that after a week of hybrid, they'll be going virtual.
Districts had protocols in place before the year started, but those aren't always being followed. Teachers are largely on a DIY basis for PPE. Plenty of folks, including some teachers, are pretty sure this is much ado about nothing. In the state in general, there's some question about what the rules and guidelines actually are, particularly since the GOP-led legislature took the Democratic governor to court over all of this.
And as is the case across the country, some of our districts are demonstrating the problems of bad or non-existent leadership in difficult times, not to mention the issues that arise when administration has built zero trust with staff.
We only have one death in the county so far, and the hospital still has room for a few more Covid cases. We'll see how this goes, but if you've ben imagining that little small town rural districts can dodge the pandemic problems of larger districts--well, that's not looking good. I'll keep you updated.