Mercer County Schools adapt COVID-19 reopening plan to new metrics

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PRINCETON, WV (WVNS) — In a release from Mercer County Superintendent Deborah Akers, supplemental instructions were issued regarding students returning to in-person instruction. The changes were made to include new metrics from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

On Sept. 26, 2020 the DHHR began using two rates to determine a county’s color on the County Alert System map. These are an Incidence Rate and a Positivity Rate and are defined below:

  • Incidence Rate: the number of active cases currently in our county compared to our overall population
  • Positivity Rate: the number of positive Covid-19 tests divided by the total number of tests given that day

Here is how the state determines which color is assigned to a county.

“It is Mercer County Schools’ belief that our students’ and employees’ health and safety is of
paramount importance; we will employ a cautious approach while providing continuity and
stability to our students’ schedules. Schedules chosen for elementary and secondary schools are
based on our ability to cohort groups and to reduce numbers of students in classes and schools,” stated Superintendent Akers.

A release from the Mercer County Schools defined Cohorts and Reduced Numbers as follows:

  • Cohorts: Elementary school students remain in the same classroom all day long with the same group of students. These students can attend school five days a week because their risk of exposure during the day is minimized.
  • Reduced numbers: In middle and high schools, students cannot be in cohorts all day long because they change classes and take different electives. Reducing the number of students in those classes by 50% each day allows for social distancing within classrooms and hallways.

As a result of these changes Mercer County will have Elementary students follow their Blended Model A when the county is in Green, Yellow or Gold. This means students will attend school five days a week.

Middle and high School students will follow Blended Model B while the county is in Green, Yellow or Gold. That plan has 50-percent of students attending in-person class each day. This will be change if the both the Incidence and Positivity rates fall below 3 for two weeks. At that point middle and high school students will attend class five days a week. If either number rises above 3 they will return to reduced numbers the following week.

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