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Pike County Schools District pushed back its in-person start date to Feb. 1, with officials citing the county’s high COVID-19 rates and dozens of staff testing positive and needing to quarantine as the primary reasons.

Superintendent Reed Adkins confirmed that the district will remain virtual until Jan. 29, and it will return to in-person classes on Monday, Feb. 1. He said they decided to wait on returning to in-person classes due to the Kentucky Daily Incidence Rate for Pike County. The county is considered critical, with 78 cases per 100,000 population, as of Jan. 19, according to the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

“We’re going to continue to monitor it weekly,” Adkins said. “As long as Pike County is somewhere between 80 and 100 on the COVID map, I don’t think we can comfortably send kids back. Once we get down to a reasonable number, we’ll start seriously considering putting them back in school.”

In addition, Adkins confirmed that there have been more than a dozen district staff who have either tested positive or have needed to quarantine due to exposure. In the week of Jan. 11, Adkins said, 36 staff members in the district tested positive and have needed to quarantine due to exposure to the virus, and this week, 28 staff had tested positive and have needed to quarantine.

“In a way, it will be difficult for us, at this point, to cover our kids,” Adkins said. “I guess we’re in the spike right now, and we’re hoping that this will soon be over.”

However, Adkins said that the district’s staff members were offered the COVID-19 vaccine last week — the week of Jan. 11 — and many of them received it. Those who received the vaccine will receive their second booster shot during the week of Feb. 1, and he described that as another milestone in the pandemic.

“That’s another milestone in getting our kids back into school,” Adkins said.

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