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In a Facebook post Tuesday morning, Madison County Schools announced they had made the tough decision to postpone in-person learning for students.

"It is not our desire to make last-minute decisions or changes to the schedule. However, as information changes and becomes available, changes become necessary,” the Facebook post read. The post explains the district has been in contact with local health officials and reviewed all available information to figure out what changes needed to be made. Erin Stewart, community education director, said the district took the day off from school Monday to meet and take in the information they had gotten over the weekend.

The most significant piece of information which heavily weighed into the decision to postpone the return to in-person instruction was how Madison County is being affected by COVID-19. The post explains, Monday’s case number was the fourth highest in the state. The incident rate in Madison County is the highest in the Central Kentucky region.

“It’s a little scary to see numbers like that,” Stewart said. The post states the district also received information that community and regional hospitals are at, or near, capacity.

“It’s not all COVID-related,” Stewart said of the hospital's nearing capacity. “But at some point, there is a strain there. We try very hard to be a good community partner through this… A big part of that is we need to make sure we are maintaining a safe haven.”

Madison County Schools has also received word the Kentucky Department for Public Health has assigned them a vaccinator, which the Facebook post said means they will be receiving vaccines for employees who have requested it in the near future. Stewart explained the district had a little over 1,100 employees sign up to get the vaccine. They also have a waiting list set up for those who wish to get vaccinated but could not sign up initially

Stewart told The Register Madison County Schools will partner with Kroger to receive their vaccines. Kroger will receive the district's doses of the Moderna vaccine and will help administer the required doses. She noted. though Kroger will help administer the vaccine, the Madison County School’s nurses will play a vital role in getting the vaccines out to the district’s workers.

Stewart said once those who have signed up for the vaccine get their first dose of the vaccine, they will look back into going to in-person learning. She said the vaccine should be in Madison County School’s hands within the next week or two. She noted they would not be waiting for the second dose to start in-person. Stewart said the first dose would give the workers a level of protection the district feels comfortable with.

“After weighing this new information, we feel it is in the best interest of our community to postpone our return to in-person instruction until after our employees have received the first dose of the vaccine. This additional time will allow some additional time for our community’s case numbers to decrease; allow some time for our hospitals to recover from the increase in strain, and allow our employees to receive some level of protection from the spread of the virus,” the post reads.

The Facebook post quickly reached more than 100 comments. Many comments praised the school system on their decision.

Julie Harper’s wrote, “I know this decision wasn’t taken lightly, and I’m thankful for a district that makes tough decisions to protect our students and MCS employees.”

Jeremiah Spivey also commented to show his support of the postponed in-person learning date.

Spinvey commented, "This is and has been the right move. Thank you."

Others, like Charity Price, expressed their disappointment on the decision.

Price wrote, “So now when can we expect to go back in person?! My kids are distracted and disappointed with this school year. My once straight-A honor roll student is now receiving D’s! Something’s gotta give somewhere! Also, my first grader is still stuck with a level C reading level. So disappointed in all this.”

Kelley Newell was also discouraged by the district’s decision to push back in-person learning.

“I think this is really ridiculous. Are children are gonna be so behind, and they are just gonna have to repeat the grade all over again because they aren't learning this way. Covid isn't gonna be over anytime soon. This is just straight crap and stupid.. We can go to Walmart and restaurants and bars and shopping malls, but children can't get an education,” Newell commented.

Madison County Schools acknowledged this decision was a tough one.

“Obviously, it is better for kids to be in the building,” Stewart said. “We would much rather have them in the building… But until we know that we can keep people safe and do that, we have to make the decision that is best for everybody.”

The Facebook post assures families Madison County Schools will let families know as soon as they know more about the timeline.

“We thank you for your continued support and patience during this pandemic,” the Madison County School’s Facebook post said.

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