Whalen explains why Dawson will open with masking

To the editor:

The beginning of a new school year is just over a week away, with students returning Wednesday, Aug. 11. We are extremely excited to have students back in our buildings five days a week.

Our goal is not only to get in school but to stay in school five days a week. All of our decisions will be geared towards the safety and health of our students, staff and our families; and us staying in school.

Based on the current situation here in Dawson Springs and the surrounding areas, with the recent rise in cases and the accelerated contagiousness of the Covid-19 delta variant, and based on the recommendation of Governor Beshear, we will start the 2021-2022 school year with a continuation of the risk mitigation strategies that proved successful for us last year.

Because our top priority is consistent, in-person learning, universal masking will be required inside all our buildings regardless of vaccination status. We will ease the mask requirements as quickly as possible utilizing information from the Hopkins County Health Department and the Kentucky Department of Public Health (KDPH).

The Covid-19 color map from the KDPH which documents cases daily will be a key resource as we monitor and make decisions and adjustments as needed. A link to the KDHP map can be found online at the following link: https://experience.arcgis.com/experienc /647a7cae97c64091b63fee0bd55b140c

A key component of easing the mask requirement is Hopkins County not being in the “red” on the KDPH map.

The hardship and undue strain created by mass quarantines is avoidable in many cases. We look forward to full classrooms, engaging after-school programs, and fall athletics. Not masking while the number cases is high or rising locally jeopardizes these opportunities in all schools, but especially smaller schools and districts like ours. We have a small staff across the district and a handful of quarantines or positive Covid-19 cases puts us in a situation where we would have trouble having school in-person even if we wanted to.

Many of the flexible options we as a school district were afforded last school year are now gone. Full Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) as we did last year is not an option due to normal laws and regulations now being back in force. I am confident we can thrive despite the barriers created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lenny Whalen

Superintendent, Dawson Springs Independent Schools

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