The Pike County Schools Board of Education voted to delay the return of in-person classes for the district and continue virtual learning until at least Jan. 22, citing the county’s record number of COVID-19 cases as a reason for the decision.

The district is now set to return in-person on Monday, Jan. 25, and Superintendent Reed Adkins said that date is a tentative start date. The high COVID-19 rates in the county, he said, make him and other district officials feel uncomfortable about bringing students back into the classroom.

“With our numbers being in the red as long as they have been and the fact that the numbers are nearly four times what the recommended number to return to school is, we’re just not comfortable right now putting our kids back in the classroom until those numbers come down to a more manageable level,” Adkins said.

Although the district will remain virtual for at least two more weeks, Adkins said the county will continue its current schedule of distributing school meals to students every week, which it has done since the start of the pandemic in March.

“We will continue to feed our kids every week,” Adkins said. “We’ve actually not missed a week since March. We give our kids food once a week, but we give them 14 meals so we’re giving them enough for two meals a day for seven days.”

As of Jan. 7, Pike County’s total number of cases was 3,363, with 1,006 of those being active cases. 2,319 people were considered recovered, and 38 Pike County residents have died from the virus so far, according to the Pike County Health Department. From Dec. 31 to Jan. 6, the PCHD reported 401 new cases of COVID-19, which is the highest number of newly reported cases reported in a single week.

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