Coronavirus Update

We aren’t transmitting and we aren’t quitting!

That is our mantra.

Nearly 12 weeks into the school year and Owensboro Catholic School students are still receiving a safe, non-virus transmitting environment. It is safe to repeat: if people wear masks the coronavirus does NOT spread. There are 1200 children in the OCS system that are living proof of that fact!

This summer OCS worked hard on a plan that could survive the closing threats and mitigate the spread of the virus. Teachers experienced enough of distance learning to know it is not the most effective way to teach children. There is NO comparison to in-school learning. That is why the decision was made early on to purchase hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and invest long hours developing protocols that would enable classroom learning. Teachers are giving our students a monumental effort and it is working.

Last week OCS received a letter from a very appreciative family who was experiencing the Owensboro Catholic School System for the first time.  It was shared with every single employee because the first three months have been successful, but also stressful. It was a beautiful expression of appreciation for the level of commitment the organization has to children. These sentiments, multiplied by the many of you who write letters of support, helps provide grace and fuel to continue the effort!

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Parents are already doing a lot to serve the school system. The patience in the temperature lines and the understanding shown during the quarantines are a testament to the type of faith community we need to keep these efforts successful. Our initial test score returns are reflecting this success. But there are additional ways each family could support the school system:

  • The masks work. It is that simple. But there are currently over 100 students quarantined right now (60 at the high school). These are not students who have tested positive. Most were marked as “close contacts” of a positive test. Two social parties resulted in most of the high school quarantines. One single asymptomatic positive diagnosis created 27 quarantines alone.  Over the summer an incredible resource team was developed to help teachers, and it is under the supervision of former K-3 Principal, Lori Whitehouse. But even with this significant investment in additional personnel, the demand is outgrowing the resources. That places even MORE burden on teachers. Thank you for your patience.
  • Do not trust social media for accurate data. It is nearly always inaccurate or incomplete. The age of social media disinformation is prevalent. Also, take the information that comes from your child with a healthy grain of salt. Sometimes it is also not accurate. Schools can NOT discuss, by law, a person’s health condition. School’s also cannot discuss disciplinary actions. These restrictions lead to a lot of speculation and unanswered questions. But there is no favoritism to one team over another. There are always extenuating circumstances. And the Health Department quarantine protocols have been fairly and justly applied in every case. All of the organizations involved are working hard to comply with the state’s mandates.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS?

There has been a total of 30 employees/students testing positive for the virus since August 26th. There are currently 10 high school students who have tested positive and are under quarantine. These represent the ONLY current positive tests in the system to report.  To date, not one transmission has been traced back to an in-school activity. All the “close contact” quarantines are the result of indoor athletic practices or social, unmasked gatherings.

Please continue to read all the information coming from the system as there will be additional efforts to communicate as transparently as possible. Do not hesitate to contact a school office if you have serious concerns. OCS officials believe it would do MORE to spread the virus if classes are cancelled for virtual learning. Students currently have a structured, faith-filled, proven, safe, educational environment. The data does not lie!

The world has been living with the coronavirus every day since the increased number of transmissions skyrocketed last March. OCS and the Diocese has qualified professionals throughout the system who review all the data, have read hundreds of articles, consult locally, and continue to stay abreast of the issues that could impact our schools. Families can really help by asking children to be cautious and responsible in their after-school hours. The schools are making EVERY decision possible to keep kids in classrooms, sports and in extracurricular activities. School personnel are working like never before to keep in-school education possible. It is the action of families over the weekend that threaten to shut even the best school efforts down.

Your letters of prayer and support do provide inspiration and motivation. Consider writing a personal note of support to your school. Remember these heroic efforts in your daily devotion. Parents, teachers, administrators, facilities staff, custodians, administrative assistants, cafeteria workers and the resource team are all managing difficult personal and organizational complexities, but this community will persevere if we continue to work together!

If we aren’t transmitting, then we aren’t quitting!

TOM LILLY

President, OCS