KENTUCKY (WFIE) - As school districts finalize plans for the upcoming fall semester, Gov. Andy Beshear and his team discussed the possible ways on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Face masks will be expected as Kentucky students return to schools.
State leaders gave new requirements and best practices to district administrators across the commonwealth.
Creating that physical distancing will be required during traditional instruction, which could result in smaller class sizes. Meanwhile, there are expectations for districts that are not able to ensure that students are six feet apart.
“Parents who have students who just refuse to comply with wearing a mask, I think I would very simply say, ‘Wearing a mask is more comfortable than wearing a respirator,‘” Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said.
State officials released five safety expectations for Kentucky schools.
The first category they recommend is social distancing, possibly using tape to mark hallways and limiting assemblies or other gatherings.
“Yes I do want to go back to school,” student Ashtyn Agnew said. “I just want to see my friends and be able to learn and not have to teach myself stuff that is online.”
If being six feet apart is unable to happen, the students will have to wear masks. If the students in classrooms are able to be six feet apart, they do not have to wear their masks. If the appropriate spacing is made, face coverings should still be used in hallways and on buses.
”My daughter has already bought my first grader two masks and they’re practicing,” Pam Ballou said. “So, you have a lot of positivity that you can plant into your children right now.”
Kentucky officials say even if the appropriate spacing is made, face coverings should still be used in hallways and on buses.
“In positive ways, help them to know that this is just part of our lives right now,” Ballou said. “It won’t always be, but it is right now.”
State leaders are allowing individual districts the flexibility to resume educational services as they see fit.
“COVID-19 doesn’t cause death in children as often as it does adults, and that’s true, but we also have to remember that we have folks who show up everyday to make sure that school is clean when your child walks in,” Lt. Gov. Coleman said. “We have folks who show up every day to make sure your child gets breakfast and lunch.”
Other safety measures include mandatory temperature checks before entering school, frequent sanitation and contact tracing.
Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Kevin Brown said the state does expect districts to provide PPE, but students can bring their own.
Lt. Gov. Coleman also temporarily suspended the 10-day limit on Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Days.
During his coronavirus update on Wednesday, Gov. Beshear announced 229 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death.
Gov. Beshear says there are 538 total deaths due to COVID-19.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Kentucky is 14,363 cases.
Meanwhile, Gov. Beshear addressed the critical need for in-person unemployment support.
As early as Thursday, Beshear announced that Kentuckians will be able to sign up online to receive in-person assistance, starting next week.
One location will be in Owensboro on June 29 and June 30.
You can watch Gov. Beshear’s full Wednesday press conference in the video below:
Officials in Hopkins County say they now have 234 total confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths.
That’s up two cases from the numbers reported Tuesday.
They reminded people to keep distance from one another, even in small groups.
Officials with Hopkins County Schools officials say the first day of school will be August 26, which is a change from the original plan. It’s still being decided how that would work.
Some counties are doing a blend of online learning some days, and in-class learning other days.
Officials say that is a challenge in Hopkins County because of child care.
They say an online learning option will be available for all students.
Officials say if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases, families should be prepared for everyone to return to remote learning.
They say families will be contacted in early August to be asked questions to help make that plan.
Officials say students over the age of five will be asked to wear masks and bring hand sanitizer.
They are also ordering chrome books and working on internet access ideas to help more students be able to learn online.
On Wednesday, Green River District Health Department (GRDHD) reported 4 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases – two in Daviess County, one in Ohio County, and one in Webster County.
GRDHD is offering free COVID-19 testing.
The total number of confirmed positive coronavirus cases in Kentucky is now 14,141 with 537 deaths.
Here are the current numbers in our area of Kentucky:
- Muhlenberg Co. - 510 cases, 8 deaths
- Hopkins Co. - 234 cases, 33 deaths, 189 recovered
- Daviess Co. - 396 cases, 7 deaths, 349 recovered
- Ohio Co. - 192 cases, 174 recovered
- Henderson Co. - 155 cases, 4 deaths, 133 recovered
- Webster Co. - 39 cases, 36 recovered
- McLean Co. - 26 cases, 1 death, 25 recovered
- Union Co. - 23 cases, 19 recovered
- Hancock Co. - 15 cases, 13 recovered