Rumor Mill - August 20, 2020
Published August 20, 2020
Could you please help clarify why everyone is going back to school if the Williamson County Active Case Spread Rate is still above .5?
One of the key points that we’ve found in our detailed conversations with the local health department, EMA, the hospital, County Government, etc. over the past few weeks is that for us the metric has reflected well the local capability to deal with the virus.
In those discussions, we learned from those health professionals that the drop from about .63 percent when we made the decision to start at our medium protocol to around .5 percent has indicated a significant reduction in those professionals’ concerns locally. On August 13, the number was at .52, August 14 at .49, August 16 at .53, August 17 at .52 and August 18 at .51.
The trend of a drop over the past three weeks has been significant and has changed the health advice locally, not just because of the numbers but because of the substance of the presence of the virus and its impact on these essential services; the trends have improved, even though individual days vary.
To that point, we’ve learned that individual days vary due to many factors: the day a certain lab sends reports, etc. Based on these detailed discussions about trends and local capabilities, we determined that we are at a point where we can increase student presence on campus, with our safety protocols in place.
We know this is a pandemic and will be unpredictable over the course of the school year. Individual habits may impact this, and community use of masks, etc. will still be very important. However, that .5 line as a guide for discussions has worked to define the local capacity to address the virus.
Does it not stand to reason that putting 40,000 kids in school, who have been home for the most part since March, is going to increase the number of COVID-19 active cases exponentially?
Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Pearcy has stated that when schools reopen there will be positive cases. The determination as to whether schools should open to traditional learners in Pre-K-12 is based off how the COVID-19 active case numbers impact our community. If the numbers reach a level in which our city and county governments are not able to provide services, our healthcare system is unable to handle the patients that arise from increasing numbers, and the health department is overwhelmed with contact tracing, then we will need to evaluate if pivoting to remote learning would help. In essence, there is not a numeric indicator that tells us that the numbers have reached a critical mass. That is why our continued conversations with community partners is so critical in our decision making.The purpose of this section is to answer any questions parents, teachers or community members might have regarding the school district and to set the record straight in regards to any rumors that might be circulating. If you have a question or have heard a rumor that you would like for us to address, simply EMAIL US your questions and we will respond to them in upcoming issues of InFocus.