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Kentucky's 'Healthy at School' guidance announced as students head back to class

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Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 19:19:21-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky's "Healthy at School" guidance plan has been announced as schools prepare to resume classes for the fall semester.

Kevin Brown, interim commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, listed guidance on safety expectations and best practices for schools across the Bluegrass. Brown says the goal is to get schools back open and remain open for the school year.

They include the following:

- Social distancing: There will be a 6 feet social distancing requirement in classrooms. However, there are some leniency and exceptions. If districts are unable to maintain at least 6 feet of distancing in the classroom because it would otherwise reduce the capacity of the classroom, students can be seated closer together but masks will be required during instruction. Smaller classroom sizes will be recommended as well as limited assemblies.

- Cloth face coverings, school health policies, and personal protective equipment: If a student is moving, they need to have a mask on. If they are less than 6 feet away from someone or on a school bus, they also need to have a mask or have their temperature checked. If parents can assure to the school district that their child does not have a temperature higher than 100.4, they can get on the bus. However, all students will need to be screened for a temperature check when at school.

- Screening and school exclusion: There will be screening requirements where a student needs to stay home or be sent home. They include a temperature greater than 100.4, a cough, vomiting/diarrhea, a rash, or exposure to a COVID-19 case within 48 hours.

- Sanitation and environmental factors: School districts will need to clean the schools and buses. There will be posters given to school districts that will be on display on school buildings for grade school and high school students.

- Contact tracing: Districts will be cooperating with local health departments in case there is a COVID-19 case in a particular school. Contact tracers will need to look at bus manifests, where the exposed person was seated on the bus, and determine whether the exposed person inadvertently exposed someone in the classroom or on the bus.

There will be an exception with requiring masks to be worn for kids with medical conditions, but the expectation is that students should wear masks inside the building, especially when social distancing is not feasible. Brown says there will be markers in the hallway to indicate distancing and classrooms will be reconfigured.

The state is giving school districts the flexibility on how they decide to come back. Some schools, for example, may choose to start out the year by doing strictly digital learning.

"I believe that we have the best teachers, administrators, and staff in the country," said Brown. "Seeing what I saw in our school districts, all 172 of them, what they did last semester ... what they did and how they did it tells me that they will be doing this and they will be meeting these expectations because they know that's the best thing for their students."