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Weighing the options: FCPS solicits advice from health experts on reopening school buildings

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Posted at 3:00 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-26 13:35:54-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — In football, being inside the red zone is good. It means you're in scoring range. But as the red zone relates to COVID-19 in Fayette County, it's not something for which you strive.

Lexington and Fayette County entered that dreaded area this week. It has schools from other counties postponing or canceling athletic events while leaving school officials scrambling to decide whether to return to in-person learning or stick with NTI.

On Friday, the district invited health professionals from the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department to share their ideas and concerns for reopening the district's school buildings.

"It will require orchestration and coordination, and we feel we can do that with the Fayette County Public Schools, as we have in the past," said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh from the health department. "But it will; if students return to some form of in-person instruction, it would obviously require us to ramp up that orchestration."

The football team at Frederick Douglass was just one of many Lexington area schools to have an opponent cancel, but coach Nate McPeek was fortunate as he was able to find another team willing to play. Other teams won't be playing this weekend as nearby districts don't want to enter that red zone.

"We've already had positive cases in student-athletes in Lexington public and private and parochial schools, and of course in staff members," Humbaugh noted.

Humbaugh said contact tracing also becomes an issue with the kids, as they can go from class to the playing field and back, which makes it hard to track from where they may have contracted the virus and to whom they may have transmitted.

"Children are less likely to be symptomatic," Humbaugh said. "So if they're not symptomatic, they're less likely to be tested."

Lexington has entered this red zone because of the situation at UK, Humbaugh said. The number of cases on campus counts towards the Fayette County total thus inflating the county's overall statistic. Still, there's a lot to consider when making a decision about a return to the school buildings in Fayette County.

"It is to me, never a no-risk situation," said Humbaugh. "But in my mind there has to be a balance between what the risks are for in-person learning versus the risk of no in-person learning."