LEXINGTON, Ky (LEX 18) — Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk sent an email to parents late Friday night indicating a high likelihood the district continues with virtual learning for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
Caulk's email followed a special Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) board meeting Friday morning with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and experts at the University of Kentucky.
In his email, Caulk detailed the emergency order issued to Kentucky requiring families to report if their child tests positive for COVID-19 within 24 hours of test results beginning September 28, even if they are doing virtual learning at home. He wrote FCPS established a "COVID-19 reporting team" to collect the testing information confidentially. To report a positive test, parents are to call 859-381-FCPS, email their student's name and phone number to email@example.com or fill out an online form at www.fcps.net.
His email also detailed conversations from the Friday morning meeting explaining more about Fayette County's 'red designation':
After sharing general information about COVID-19 in school-aged children, Lexington-Fayette County Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh reviewed the numbers of new cases in Fayette County, trends for different community demographics, hospitalizations, and percentages of asymptomatic individuals vs. patients with symptoms. He attributed the county’s “red designation” to the occurrence of COVID-19 among University of Kentucky students, and showed that the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases reported in Fayette County had plateaued at between 10 and 15 cases since mid-August after a steady incline from mid-June through August 4.
Humbaugh said Fayette County was unlikely to move to the yellow designation as long as cases at the University of Kentucky continued at current rates. He explained that Fayette County is unique because UK students comprise roughly 10 percent of our population and UK is doing such an excellent job of testing and tracing COVID-19 cases. Other college communities are larger so the impact of college cases are diluted, or colleges are not conducting such comprehensive testing.
Caulk wrote in his email, "Given Dr. Humbaugh’s statement that Fayette County will unlikely receive a yellow rating as long as UK is in session, strict adherence to the state guidance would mean our schools would remain virtual for at least the remainder of the 2020-21 school year."
He said the district will comply with the state's recommended guidance for reopening and explained that guidance includes the following under the "COVID-19 Mode of Instruction Metrics for K-12 Education chart":
- Essential staff entering facility, must practice best health practices for social distancing, mask use, handwashing, and sanitation as per Healthy At Schools Guidance on Safety Expectations and Best Practices for Kentucky Schools (K-12)
- Suspend in person instruction activities until Yellow Level is achieved at a future weekly decision point
- Activate remote learning
- Continue essential student support services including meals, student engagement and special education service
- Schools may at their own discretion bring small groups of students into the building to receive targeted services that supplements learning
- Community must return to Yellow Level at future weekly checkpoint before resuming in person learning
- Suspend all school-related athletic (per KHSAA guidance) and extracurricular activities
The next FCPS school board meeting is set for September 28 and is available on the district's Facebook page. Parents are encouraged to email their thoughts and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.