Last week, Cabell County school officials announced that students at two of its four middle schools will cease in-person classes for two weeks after two Huntington East Middle students tested positive for the virus after attending school Monday and Tuesday and after student-athletes at Milton Middle who attended class Tuesday also tested positive.
If schools are to be closed for weeks at a time after only two students test positive, why submit other students and their families to the up-and-down cycle of in-school learning and distance learning?
This decision came as Cabell County was designated as a green county on the state’s color-coded map. Green means things are safe. Or they should be. Apparently not, as far as half of Cabell County’s middle school students are concerned.
Now students who need Wi-Fi to keep up with their school work will have to travel to six spots where school buses with Wi-Fi hotspots will be parked. Three buses will be available for the Huntington East attendance zone and three in the Milton zone.
The schools also established meal pickup sites for HEMS and Milton Middle students who usually attend in person.
Also last week, Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center tightened their rules for visitation because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Beginning today, adult inpatients who are admitted to either hospital may designate one primary and one alternate visitor who may visit the patient during their stay. Only one of these designated visitors can be in the building each day during the hours of noon to 6 p.m. and during discharge instructions.
The visitor may only leave the patient room to go to the cafeteria or to meet food delivery personnel in the lobby. Once a visitor exits the building, they will not be allowed to return until the next day.
Labor and delivery and postpartum patients who are admitted to one of the hospitals may have one designated support person in labor, delivery and for the duration of the mother’s hospital stay. So in most cases, the newborn’s father may visit, but not siblings or grandparents.
The hospitals have different rules for visitation in their emergency departments and their pediatric units.
The point is that just when people thought COVID-related restrictions were relaxing, they tighten up again.
As a state and as a region, we’re struggling with several reactions to the coronavirus. Some people appear to favor ignoring it and going back to the pre-coronavirus days. Others favor caution but with the appropriate assessment of risk so that they don’t overreact. Others advocate extreme caution — a better-safe-than-sorry approach. And at the other extreme from the first group, there are a number of people on the verge of panic.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with the coronavirus. Schools, hospitals, businesses and other places where the public gathers must be able to make their own decisions of how much risk they can tolerate. So must people who use their services. But people need stability. When things change week to week, stability disappears and distrust of institutions sets in.
It would be nice to know what the realistic expected outcome is, to have one plan and to stick to it.