By James Cook, Times Editor It was just a matter of time. With classrooms emptying and doctor’s offices filling up, time was running out on a decision for the local schools administrators. The early flu season that has been sweeping across the nation and the state, has apparently caught up with Powell County. So much so, the Powell County Schools System cancelled classes for this week. But that was not all that was cancelled.
“We’ve talked to doctors and medical professionals and they said if we are going to do this, then do it right,” Superintendent Evelyn Neely told the Times. “There will be no classes, no activities, no games or practices until at least Friday. Maybe that will let everyone get to feeling better.”
However, Powell County Head Start reportedly is still holding classes this week.
The cancellation of all school activites includes practice for the fall sports teams. The football teams will not be able to practice until what was supposed to be game day. “Friday’s game will be played on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.,” Powell County Athletic Director Monroe Jones announced on Tuesday.
The Lady Pirates volleyball team has rescheduled their Senior Night activities. The original plan was to hold the ceremonies on Thursday, but now Powell will host Montgomery County on Friday night at 6 p.m. The middle school programs are also enduring the moritorium.
The Powell County High School Boys’ Golf Team, which took home the regional runner-up title late last week, will be allowed to compete at the state tournament this week. As will Meghan Mays and Corri Collins, members of the girls’ golf team, who quailified to take part in the state tournament in Bowling Green later this week.
Other county organizations and groups where young people congregate have also decided to shut down for the week. The Upward Basketball Program that is held at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Stanton has shut down games for the week, but will begin play again on Saturday. Church groups have even cancelled Wednesday night gatherings. “We’ve decided to help out by not holding our youth meeting this week,” Mike Estep, assistant pastor of Grace Fellowship, said. “We have about 200 kids every week, so we want to help slow this down if we can.”
“We really didn’t have much of a choice,” Neely said. “Our attendance was steadily declining, not on,y with students but staff members too. A lot of people was calling in sick. So we had to give everyone a chance to get better.”
Neely had advised earlier this year that anytime attendance falls below 89 perecent the school system begins to lose money. More importantly the learing process is interuppted if students are out for a lenghty amount of time and miss classes, while their fellow students continue. Last Friday Neely reported that the school system attendance had dropped to 79 percent. “There were 503 absewnt today district-wide,” she told the Times.
The loss of three of the days this week could possibly be made up later in the year. “We are looking at using a couple of Spring Break days and another day we had scheduled for teachers to make it up,” Neely added. “But it is too early to say. A lot will depend on the weather this winter and whether or not we need to use those days as make-up days.” The school system was already schewduled to have Thursday and Friday off for Fall Break, the first time the system had scheduled such a break.
“We will use the time for custodians and other staff members to get some extra cleaning done this week I hopes of sanitizing the areas and slow down anymore spreading of the flu,” Neely stated. “Our custodial staff has done a great job of the cleaning duties we put in place a few weeks ago to help with this health situation and I applaud their efforts and their work. It has been appreciated.” Since there will be no students, it is believed that the staff’s will have more time to perform some extra cleaning to aid in the process of sanitizing the schools.
As long as there are no widespread outbreaks and the situation seems to improve, Powell County schools will go back in session on Monday, Oct. 12.