Hopkins County Schools have released new information about the opt-in option of in-person classes and facial covering requirements for the school year.

The announcement came on Madisonville’s official weekly COVID-19 update via Facebook Live Wednesday morning.

Hopkins County Schools Superintendent Dr. Deanna Ashby and Hopkins County Health Department Director Denise Beach joined Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. and Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton during this session to also talk about an update on the county’s COVID-19 cases, blood donations and Wi-Fi expansion in the county.

COVID-19 cases updateTwo new cases from Hopkins County have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases to 234. There are currently 12 active cases and six probable cases in the county, according to officials.

The amount of COVID-related deaths remains at 33 people in the county. Recovery has also stagnated at 189 cases.

New cases in the state reported since Monday stood at 405, increasing the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus to 14,141 in total.

According to Denise Beach, there has been a slight uptick in community spreading in Hopkins County that has been linked to small gatherings such as holiday celebrations and family dinners.

To prevent further spreading, individuals should avoid personal contact such as kissing and hugging, practice social distancing and wear facial covering. Small changes such as eating outdoors rather than in a closed area can slow the spread of COVID-19, Beach said.

Beach also noted that the amount of youths contracting the virus has increased. Four children between the ages of toddler to middle schooler have shown symptoms in the county this week, Beach said.

“If your child has a runny nose, fever, cough, diarrhea, sore throat, please take them in to get tested,” Beach said.

Plans for the school yearThe first day of school for the Hopkins County School District is slated for August 26, and in-person classes are planned to be held, according to Ashby. There will also be an alternative option for students to participate in remote learning for the 2020-21 school year.

During the week of July 8 to 15, parents should expect a phone call from a certified employee of the school board about whether their child is expected to return to school for in-person classes. During the phone call, families will have the opportunity to ask questions about the specifics of the remote learning program. More information about the program will be forthcoming.

If the student intends to physically attend school in the district, individuals ages 6 and older will be required to wear facial coverings at certain parts of the school day such as bus drives and any time social distancing is not possible, Ashby said. Staff will also be required to wear face masks.

Children aged 5 and younger are not required to wear masks but are allowed to do so at the discretion of the parent.

Ashby understands that some parents might take issue with the mandatory facial covering for students, but the requirement was made for every community member’s safety.

“If we’re going to be able to maintain having school in-person, then everybody is gonna have to have some give and take,” Ashby said. “We want to keep everybody safe. It’s just going to take a change on the part of our entire community, in our mindset, across the state and across the nation.”

Hand sanitizer should also be on the supply list for students, Ashby said. The schools will purchase many of these supplies, but as the year goes on, face coverings will need to be replenished. The school board will accept donations of face masks from any individuals or local organizations.

“We just know that ‘normal’ isn’t going to be normal anymore,” Ashby said. “We’re going to have to adjust. We’re going to have to do some things that maybe are outside of our comfort zone.”

Ashby encourages parents and community leaders to be role models for the youth in adhering to health and safety guidelines provided by the county.

Additional Chromebooks have been ordered for students to use. Internet hotspots will be available at the following parking lots: James Madison Middle School, West Hopkins School, Madisonville North High School, Hopkins County Central High School and West Broadway Elementary School.

“We’d had a lot of complaints from parents that didn’t have internet service, so we are trying to overcome any barriers that we faced in the last school year,” she said.

These directives are subject to change depending on state mandates and COVID-19 case spikes.

A finalized plan for how the school day will look like is scheduled to be announced at the end of July, Ashby said. The school board plans to initiate more communication with students and their families following the Fourth of July weekend.

For more information, please check out the Hopkins County Schools’ Facebook page or visit www.hopkins.kyschools.us. Individuals can contact the school board at 270-825-6000

In other news, officials announced:

• that the County is looking into expanding the broadband access.

• that yard sales are allowed under the umbrella of the retail mandate, as confirmed by the office of Governor Andy Beshear. Citizens can host yard sales during this time.

• firework rules and regulations in city limits will be posted by the Madisonville Fire Department on its Facebook page.

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