The Cumberland Valley District Health Department reported 18 new confirmed cases and 11 new probable cases in Jackson County on Monday, August 31, 2020. These 29 new cases come after the first week of opening school online saw an outbreak amongst the faculty and staff at the Jackson County Middle School. A total of 5 confirmed cases and 1 exposure lead the school top close the middle school building until September 18, 2020. Superintendent Mike Smith and the school system reported: “As recommended by the Cumberland Valley District Health Department, in conjunction with the Jackson County Health Department, the Jackson County Middle School will be closed beginning Friday, August 28, 2020 through Friday, September 11, 2020, due to the heightened risk for further spread of COVID-19 and the difficulty identifying all close contacts in the school setting with confidence.
Teachers and staff will continue to deliver instruction from home through the virtual learning platform on the same daily schedule as currently done. We anticipate the transition should be seamless with minimal disruption to the students. The Jackson County Middle School building will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized during the closure. All staff will return to the Jackson County Middle School on Monday, September 14, 2020. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate through these challenging times. We would also like to thank our local health department for their support and guidance.”
Christie Green, Public Health Director, CVDHD reported, “When the number of cases at Jackson County Middle School faculty and staff rose to seven by last Thursday, we participated in a call with Mr. Smith and others at the Jackson County Board of Education. I appreciate their willingness to take steps to protect staff and employees at the school, and I believe that closing the middle school for two weeks will help slow the spread and give those who have become sick time to recover. Fortunately, Jackson County schools have begun the year with distance learning, and no students were present at the time that these cases developed. Four additional positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed among JCMS faculty and staff over the weekend, bringing the current number of cases there to eleven.”
Green continued saying, “The majority of these 29 new cases are among people who were close contacts to prior positive cases. Some are associated with Jackson County Middle School as contacts to the original cases there. Because they were contacts to prior cases, they were already in self-quarantine when they developed symptoms or received a positive test result. We are hopeful that in these cases there will be fewer contacts at risk because the individuals were already limiting their exposure and quarantining at home.”
The new cases are also occurring in conjunction with a period of time where the entire state of Kentucky just reported its worst week yet in terms of new cases. On Sunday August 30, 2020 Governor Beshear provided an update saying, “With today’s 462 new positive cases of COVID-19, this last week has been our single largest week ever for new cases of COVID: 4,503. It brings our total number of cases to date to 48,032,” the Governor said. “That means we have to do better. With this number of cases we see more people hospitalized, we see sadly more people being lost. So please wear your mask, please make good decisions. This is a time when this virus is spreading aggressively.”
The JCHS also noted last week that two more student athletes had tested positive. This brings the total number of student athletes to three (3) that have tested positive. It is uncertain how this new outbreak will impact the plan to begin fall sports in the district. The middle school is looking forward to a Lady Colonels Girls’ Basketball season as well as a Colonels Football season. The high school is moving forward with the Lady General’s Volleyball season and the General’s football season. All of these teams are scheduled to compete in games prior to the date identified as the return to “in-person” instruction of September 28th, 2020. JCHS Principal Brian Harris reported, “We are trying to update our guidelines for sports due to the upcoming sporting events. We plan on allowing very limited attendance. Out of an abundance of caution we are only allowing sports in season to practice. We are trying to protect every one while at the same time allowing sports. It’s like walking a tightrope with no safety net.” The plan will be submitted to the local health department for review and approval prior to implementation.
Jackson County as a whole currently has 59 active confirmed cases and 77 probable cases. The total number of confirmed cases in Jackson County is now 159 positive cases with 15 COVID-related deaths.