LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — After nearly a year of remote learning, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students had the opportunity to return to in-person learning in the Fayette County Public Schools district Wednesday morning.
According to FCPS, 7,000 kindergarten through second-grade students went back to school in-person on Feb. 22. As of Wednesday morning, two staff members and eight students tested positive for COVID-19. The district says "possible exposure" led to 10 staff members, one of which was a transportation worker, and 128 students went into quarantine.
In total, eight FCPS classrooms have been quarantined. One of those classrooms was at Liberty Elementary School in Hamburg.
"It was something I knew we had to go through," Principal Lisa Kear said. "I've been through it. I know what to expect."
She explained that she and the district learned in real-time some of the challenges and logistics in sorting through the possible exposures.
"Our person our health consultant for the district, Debbie Bowen, called me immediately and said, 'Lisa, this is the situation. This is the class. We are going to need to quarantine that class, and let the call center we'll make all the calls for you to the families to let them know about it.' And I was like, 'Well, can the students stay for the day? Or do they need to be picked up?' She said, 'no, they are allowed to stay.' She of course got all the information about the student: Were they a bus rider? Had they eaten lunch and breakfast in the cafeteria?" said Kear.
Liberty Elementary had 85 percent of their 703 students back in the building Wednesday. Kear says several are on the waiting list.
"I finally had to do a cut-off and say we just can't. We, you know, we just can't do anymore, but we are trying to do as many as we can because kids need to be at school," she said.
Kear said some families changed their mind from the time the survey came out in November asking them if they wanted to return back in-person adding to their numbers.
She said every one of her staff members opted to return to in-person teaching.
"Not one teacher asked to be remote because they weren't comfortable because they have health issues ... Not one teacher or staff," she said. "I have no staff that requested to be remote. I had to keep a couple remote because of the families that were wanting to come back remote, but I'm very, very fortunate."
In her elementary school, Kear said COVID-19 has her staff keeping track of seating charts, spacing out students while they walk from room-to-room, operating on scheduled bathroom breaks, spacing out seating for lunchtime in the cafeteria, and keeping up with an extensive cleaning schedule.
"It's been a whole new world that you know I never thought I would need to know but I will say, we have been very, very fortunate our district has given us everything we need," she said. "I mean I tell the kids, they'll say, 'I forgot my mask.' 'No worries, we got plenty. Don't worry.' Hand sanitizer, the thermometers...We one of the infrared thermometers or thermal imaging cameras. I mean, just anything I've needed. I asked, and we get it. I mean they have been so supportive."