Hawkins County enters into “yellow” phase of COVID-19 cases

This graph shows the average rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents for the past 14 days.

When Hawkins County Schools’ phased reopening plan was unveiled on July 8, the county was considered to be in the “green” zone regarding the rate of COVID-19 community spread.

However, the county has now advanced into the “yellow” zone as community spread increases.

The reopening plan is marked by three phases—green, red and yellow— that directly correlate to the amount of community spread of COVID-19. These three phases outline whether schools will remain open and the way in which teachers will deliver instruction to their students.

With school set to begin on August 4, this data could mean that schools reopen in the “yellow” phase instead of the “green” phase.

The plan explicitly noted, “We are not assuming we will begin the school year on August 4 with regular classroom instruction;” however, as of presstime on the morning of Tuesday, July 21, Hawkins Co. School officials had not yet released any information on whether or not this means schools will officially begin in the “yellow” phase.

Defining community spread

According to the HCS reopening plan, the virus will manifest in local communities in one of three ways at any given point in time:

Zero to minimal: defined as very few, if any, active COVID-19 cases locally, with minimal spread. Less than 10 active new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 County residents over the last 14-day period (or as identified by school site).

Minimal to moderate: spread is increasing with a significant amount of circulating disease in the given geographic area. 10 or more active new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 County residents over the last 14-day period (or as identified by school site).

Substantial: expected when case counts in Hawkins County have increased or accelerated rapidly, spread is significant, or a complete shutdown of the community is activated. Substantial amount of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 County residents over the last 14-day period (or as identified by school site).

However, Director of Schools Matt Hixson noted that school administration takes multiple other factors into account before making this decision.

He and other administrators go over this data with the regional health office on a weekly basis.

Hawkins County above threshold

According to the Tennessee Department of Health website, Hawkins County’s latest COVID-19 data (as of July 19) showed that the county is slightly above the threshold.

The latest TDH data showed that Hawkins County’s average rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past 14 days was 10.31, which is slightly above the threshold of 10.

This translates to an average of 5.86 new cases over the last 14 days.

This data can be found at THD’s website, https://www.tn.gov/health/cedep/ncov.html, and is updated daily.

What each phase would look like

Within the “green” level, schools remain open, operating as normal with general safety precautions in place. Hawkins County Schools will enlist parents and community in assisting with ensuring student safety and health.

Yellow Level: Schools are eventually forced to alter educational models. HCS would employ a remote/in-person hybrid learning scenario. This model would consist of bringing half of the students into classrooms Mondays and Tuesdays, working with all students remotely on Wednesdays while administrators deep clean all facilities, and bringing the remaining half of the student population to classrooms on Thursdays and Fridays.

Red Level: Schools close to students on campus, and there are subsequent school/community-based closures. In the event of school closures, HCS would employ their remote learning plan, consisting of all teachers teaching students remotely in live sessions where possible.

The plan also goes into great detail on protocols for screening students as well as how each phase will affect school dining, extracurricular activities, and athletics.

The plan can be read in its entirety at https://www.hck12.net/.