LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After more than a month of a rolling return of certain grade levels, all Fayette County Public Schools students have been invited back, with three-quarters of the student body choosing in-person instruction.
Since Monday, with more than 30,000 students back in their classrooms, only 11 students tested positive which led to 197 students and two employees being quarantined out of an abundance of caution because they were within six feet of those 11 students for 15 minutes or more.
The district said none of the positive cases since the start of the return to school occurred because of exposure at school or among district athletic teams.
FCPS Health Coordinator Debbie Boian explained the process once a positive COVID case is identified.
"We have a call center set up. Our parents are asked to call the call center, that number is (859) 381-3277, and report positive cases to us. Once those go to the call center, an email automatically generates out to those who need to know the information, which would be myself, the principal, the school director and the Transportation Department," Boian said.
Boian said the next steps are all about contact tracing.
The district looks at "seating charts, how long they were around the students around them," she said. "We develop a list and once that list is developed then we send those names to our call center or back to our call center, and they will contact the parents and let them know that their child is being quarantined due to a positive in the school class, or the school environment."
As the school year continues, FCPS hopes families, teachers and staff will be honest in their reporting.
"It's really important that we have those and we've even had situations where we haven't had to quarantine people because they had COVID, but we didn't know they had COVID because it was over winter break and they hadn't reported it. So, even if it's spring break, still let us know. Still make those phone calls," said FCPS spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall.
A number of families and teachers raised concerns about ventilation in classrooms, especially in some of FCPS' older buildings. FCPS Chief Operating Officer Myron Thompson said district officials went building by building and added UV light technology and portable air filtration units to address the issue.
"We are encouraging schools to open windows when possible so fortunately we're in springtime now and that is a little more practical during the winter months," said Thompson. "So again, it is a challenge having older facilities. We have over, 60 buildings of various ages, and we're just working through those things but we feel that we've addressed those needs and feel pretty comfortable with it."
The district added COVID-19 precautions in every school including mask-wearing, social distancing, staggered class times, one-way hallways and eliminated the use of lockers to mitigate gatherings in hallways.
Despite all the measures and weeks of limited quarantines, more than 10,000 students, teachers and staff are still choosing to remain remote.
"I think that's a family choice. I think that that's something that the individual family needs to weigh their situation," said Bowen. "We're doing our best to keep students as safe as we can and as healthy as we can. But not every family has the same level of comfort. So it would be very much a family decision."
Since the beginning of the return to in-person instruction at the end of February, the district struggled to staff bus routes. Despite pay incentives and an increase in interest, the district is still looking to hire bus drivers, bus monitors and cafeteria workers.
"Towards the end of the semester, we will start shoring up our transportation ranks pretty significantly," Thompson said.
Click here to apply to be a bus driver, bus monitor or cafeteria worker.