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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Newport Independent Schools Resumes Sept. 29 With Hybrid Model

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Newport Independent Schools will return to in-person instruction on Sept. 29 under a hybrid model.

According to Superintendent Tony Watts, a group of students will attend classes Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, all students will do virtual learning. On Thursday and Friday, a second group of students will attend classes.

"The parents made a decision," Watts said. "We allowed them to choose whether they wanted their kids to come back in person or virtual, so we will still use the choices that the parents made because we have the schedules and everything already done."

Safety precautions will be taken at the school buildings in the district. All teachers, staff and students will be required to wear masks throughout the day. Students entering school buildings will also have their temperatures taken.

Social distancing will also be in place on school buses and school buildings will be sanitized regularly.

"If we don't do what's right and then we have an outbreak, then we'll all have to go back home," Watts said. "I don't think anyone wants that. We've been home since March."

Sports teams in the school district will also be under guidelines put forth by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

Watts said that when Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear recommended against in-person instruction, the KHSAA decided to move forward with fall sports.

"My dilemma was how can we justify that it's safe enough to play sports but not safe enough to go back to school?" Watts said. "Sports can't be more important than school."

The district's fall sports schedule will proceed as planned, with the Newport Wildcats football team taking on Bishop Brossart in Alexandria on Friday, Sept. 11.

Attendance at Newport home games will be limited to two tickets per player.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.