Frankfort Independent Schools was ready to go with its phase-in plan for in-person instruction this week.

The district will try again Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Houston Barber, FIS superintendent, posted a message online Friday that the district would stay with virtual instruction this week.

“The reality is the numbers are very high,” Barber said at a school board meeting Monday night. “We had some internal challenges as well with staff testing positive and some of our students, and we just felt that it wasn’t the right time to kick off as much as we need our kids in school, which I openly admit and tell you each time. We are working towards that, working towards the phase-in plan that was set to begin today, but we will start next Tuesday.

“Obviously I’ll keep working with you and communicating as things develop,” he told the board members.

FIS, which has been utilizing virtual instruction, had four students and two staff test positive for COVID-19 last week.

“It’s my understanding none of these cases have been due to in-school spread,” said Jina Greathouse, FIS board chairperson. “These are cases that have come from outside and have been self-reported, and we do appreciate very staff member and every family for self-reporting.

“I think the fact we haven’t had any in-school spread is a tribute to our staff following guidelines, taking this very seriously and doing everything within their power to keep people safe.”

On the incidence rate map that appears on the website, Franklin County’s rate Monday was 54.4. That number is the average new daily cases per 100,000 population, and it’s based on the previous seven days.

That keeps the county in the red zone, which is for counties with an incidence rate greater than 25.

“I’m just excited as you are to get everybody back in school,” Barber told the board. “And we do have small groups happening, but we have to elevate that to the next level when we safely can.”

Barber talked about COVID vaccines for K-12 personnel, who are in Tier 1B of the vaccine schedule. The health department is currently vaccinating people in Tier 1A.

“We are inching closer to vaccinations for our staff,” he said. “As soon as we receive information, I assume it will happen very quickly.

“We will be prepared. We anticipate giving vaccines out over a week’s time so we can kind of layer.”

In other business Monday:

• The board reelected Greathouse as chairperson, and Amelia Berry was reelected as vice chairperson.

• Barber presented the Transforming Lives Award to each board member for their work on the board. The members are Greathouse, Berry, Becky Barnes, Tasha Jones and David Garnett.

• FIS Chief Operations Officer Bobby Driskell gave an update on the renovation of F.D. Wilkinson Gymnasium. He said the work is going well and the gym is on track to reopen in October.

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