Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that local school districts will now making decisions on how students attend classes without additional recommendations from his office.
However, under an emergency regulation filed Monday that requires parents and guardians, to inform schools about COVID–19. individual K-12 schools will then be required to report the number of students, faculty and staff members who have tested positive for COVID–19 on a daily basis, Monday through Friday.
Dr. Robert Stack, Commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health, announced that the data would be made available on the state’s COVID–19 website.
It will be able to be broken down by statewide, by county, by district, or by school.
Based on the data, each county will be color coded on a map with green, yellow, orange or red based on the number.
That color will provide a recommendation as to whether schools in the county should have students attending in-person, or move to virtual only.
“We will be able to see trends,” Stack said noting the data will be able to be viewed on a 24 or 72-hour, 14-day, or historical basis.
Stack said the validity of the data will rely on parents and school officials providing accurate information.
“We hope this will provide real-time information for all to work together to provide safe schools,” Stack said.
Stack said when a county reaches orange, it is a sign it is headed for trouble and should take steps.
“If you hit red, suspend in-person instruction and go to virtual only,” Stack said noting districts are advised to wait until the color returns to yellow before returning to in-person instruction.
“We don’t want to keep you out longer than we have to,” Stack said noting a bump into orange could be a one-day event, or a sign of a trend.
Corbin Independent, Whitley County, and Williamsburg Independent are scheduled to resume the in-person class option on Sept. 28.
Beshear had made the recommendation on Aug. 10, emphasizing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff as his primary concern.
Beshear said one of the reasons for the delay was to give the department for public health time to get this system finalized and in place so that local school systems and parents have the information to make an informed decision.
The Corbin Board of Education is scheduled to meet Thursday night.
Officials said the matter is likely to be discussed at the meeting.
The Corbin Board of Education had previously approved a plan that would permit students to attend classes, virtually, in-person, or under a hybrid option.
Under the hybrid option, students would attend five days of class in-person, and five days, virtually.
Students who are in this option would be assigned to one of two groups.
Group A would attend in person on Monday, Wednesday and every other Friday.
Group B would attend in person Tuesday Thursday and every other Friday.
Whitley County Superintendent John Siler said plans are for students to attend classes either in-person or virtually.
Whitley will follow the plan originally created in July.
Students doing in-person instruction at schools that are in first grade and above will be required to wear a mask when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines of six-foot social distancing isn’t possible. Also, masks must be worn while on the school bus.
Siler said school officials will continue to monitor the COVID–19 situation in conjunction with officials from the Whitley County Health Department in order to make the best decision possible for the students, faculty and staff.
The Williamsburg Independent Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday on aplan to return to at least partial in-person instruction.
Superintendent Tim Melton said that parents and guardians will have the option of having their child attend school virtually five days per week, or in-person from 8 a.m. – 3 a.m. Monday through Thursday, with all students attending school virtually every Friday through December.
Melton noted that every school district should expect periodic disruptions to in-person learning throughout the school year due to the virus.
By every student going to school virtually one day a week through the end of the calendar year, all students will be prepared in the event spikes in the virus force periods of all virtual learning, Melton said.
Parents will have the option to switch their children between in-person instruction and virtual instruction every six weeks.
Board member Roger Faulkner noted that having virtual instruction on Fridays would give the district the opportunity to do a thorough cleaning of the building once a week.
Meals will be served to students attending school both in-person and virtually five days a week.
Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the building and water fountains have all been fitted with bottle fillers.
Melton said that he likes what he has read so far in regards to the governor’s plan Monday, which allows school districts to decide when they will attend school in-person based upon public health guidelines.
Melton said he thinks this is overall good for Williamsburg because of the excellent working relationship between the district and the local health department.