Our Hope is for a mask optional New Year! – Tom Lilly, OCS President
There’s no doubt what the Owensboro Catholic School community is made of. The strain of operating schools during a pandemic continues to wear and tear on the heroic efforts going on in our classrooms. But parents’ faculty and staff continue to get outstanding outcomes under very adverse circumstances. The system went several days this month without a single COVID case, but like the rest of Daviess County, we’re currently seeing a spike in incident rates.
A few weeks ago, there was a glimmer of hope that students would soon have mask optional choices in some of our schools. Unfortunately, the recent surge has eliminated hopes that we will have a mask optional choice before Thanksgiving. But the news continues to get better every day throughout the state and right now our worst-case scenarios look like a mask optional New Year!
Vaccines and boosters are available to everyone! So, while COVID will probably never completely go away, we will continue to take steps toward normalcy.
We still want to remind parents that COVID poses less of a threat to our children than the flu. There have only been 19 recorded pediatric deaths nationwide since the pandemic began (even though no one knows the potential long term impact). However, we continue to observe the mask mandate because of how taxed our local health care system becomes when COVID transmissions escalate. When emergency rooms and intensive care units started filling up with COVID cases, it became increasingly difficult to also manage the heart attacks, strokes and the victims of automobile accidents and other maladies!
The incident rate in Daviess County is currently hovering around 35%. Ideally, that rate should drop below 25% for at least two weeks before masks become optional. In our Region 2 the ICU occupancy rate is currently over 90%, with 20% of these patients sick from COVID. So, there is still a very real threat.
We will also never forget that COVID had a devastating impact on many of our Owensboro Catholic School families. Our community continues to grieve the loss of life during this pandemic, and we continue to pray every day for members of our community currently hospitalized. But I would highly recommend the book authored by Pope Francis titled “Let us Dream.” He challenges us to come out of this pandemic with more passion for faith and Church. He said that tragic events in our life can serve to give life more meaning. We can come out of this pandemic with new perspectives, a deeper understanding of faith and strengthened relationships. We are already seeing that being lived out in our Owensboro Catholic schools and parishes, and I am appreciative for all of you making this happen.