Health Department Limits Gatherings
Dr. Rob Mullen
Since last March, the one guiding principle for all our decisions has been the health and well-being of all in our school community. Besides this moral principle, we must abide by directives from numerous government agencies since we are in a public health crisis. Trinity does not have the luxury to be selective in the rules we follow.
Current COVID-19 data makes the pandemic seem worse than ever. There are new virus strains. Infections and hospitalizations grew as predicted after the holidays with Kentucky recording the highest number of single-day deaths on January 21. It is now projected the US will reach a half million deaths by the end of February. While we know of no transmission of the virus caused by a school contact, we all see the spread of the virus based upon the reporting made by families to our school nurses.
There is a desire among some to gather in large groups in numbers greater than those in classrooms, the cafeteria, and in school activities, where, in those settings, we have been following government guidelines.
Last week I asked the Louisville Metro Public Department of Health and Wellness about their current rules on large scale gatherings. They replied: “It is not advisable at this time to encourage or plan any large gatherings on campus or off site. It is not safe considering the high case counts in our community.” I also asked about holding graduation outdoors in our stadium. They replied: “We cannot assist with any specific graduation guidance at this time because we do not know what our case counts are going to be in the late spring when these activities are taking place.”
This response feels eerily like last spring when decisions about returning to school and school events were continually delayed by health officials. In fact, it wasn’t until April 21 that the Governor decreed that no in-person graduations could take place. Based upon his order and with the widely-held sentiment that a face-to-face event was preferred, we scheduled an in-person graduation for the Class of 2020 for July 30. Unfortunately, the rage of the pandemic was worse at the end of July than in May and was worse again in November when we scheduled it a third time.
While the vaccination of school personnel will start in the coming weeks, the two part regimen with many weeks between the first and second shots means the process may not be completed until mid-March. Similar to the health department’s predicament, we cannot forecast the status of the pandemic at any point in the future. We hope we are able to maintain our Hybrid Wednesday class schedule.
In the meantime, while large school gatherings cannot be planned per the health department’s statement, we will still conduct the small-group activities that comply with the guidelines we must follow. Attendance at sporting events will be limited to parents of the participants. The spring play rehearsals are stringently following health department rules and performances might be done outdoors while attendees watch from their cars. After-school activities will be held virtually or in small groups using proper screening, cleaning and spacing. Ms. Emrich is planning the off-site day-time senior retreats with only 24 participants at a time and using Healthy at School protocols.
We are planning numerous ways to salute the Class of 2021 and are preparing multiple formats for the end-of-the-year graduation events since we do not know at this time which one may be allowed. There is more to come on these plans.
We thank those who support our commitment to maintaining a safe environment for all.