FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Kentucky Department of Public Health (KDPH) recommends schools across the state avoid returning to in-person learning until on or after January 11, 2021.
The recommendation comes amid new public health guidance by the state as the nation begins rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans.
The Kentucky Department of Public Health, along with the Kentucky Department of Education, made the recommendation by factoring in the Christmas holiday and New Year's Day. Governor Andy Beshear says state officials want more time to pass after the Christmas holiday—where the number of in-person gatherings is expected to go up—before students return to school buildings.
"This is not a mandate, but it is much safer to start your in-person instruction on the 11th than on the 4th," said Gov. Beshear.
The new Healthy at School guidance, which will be mandatory, starting on January 4, 2021, include the following:
Adjustments of orange and red county recommendations:
Counties will remain color-coded based on their level of transmission. So a county will still be considered in the "red zone" if it has 25 or more average daily cases per 100,000 people. However, what schools can do if they are labeled an orange or red county is changing.
Those schools are recommended to begin a hybrid learning model that decreases the number of students inside schools. Schools in a "red zone" county are advised to consider a more aggressive hybrid approach or remote learning entirely.
Virtual learning options:
Every school must provide meaningful virtual options that cannot negatively impact the virtual students' GPA, class rank, ability to take advanced placement classes, or any other educational opportunity or recognition.
Gov. Beshear says there has been at least one instance where a school did not offer AP classes virtually.
"This will impact only a small number of districts," Gov. Beshear said. "But if we're going to operate if a county is red, we have to provide this meaningful, virtual option that does not negatively impact students that take it."
Under the new Healthy at School guidance, schools must accommodate all educators who fall into a high-risk category, according to the CDC, with virtual options.
"If you have employees that are 65 and older, that have heart, lung, or kidney disease, these are employees that must be provided some accommodation," said Gov. Beshear.
Schools must continue providing daily reporting of COVID-19 cases among students and faculty. Gov. Beshear says this will allow parents to see the number of positive tests or the number of those in quarantine and get an accurate assessment of whether to send their children to school.
To learn more about the changes, click here.