FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky unveiled a new color-coded guidance system for K-12 schools Monday based on the spread of COVID-19 in each county.
When Kentucky's positivity rate is less than 6%, the state will assign a color to counties each week based on the number of people per 100,000 who are infected with coronavirus there, Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack said at Gov. Andy Beshear's daily coronavirus briefing.
In "green" and "yellow counties," Kentucky recommends schools follow the Department of Education's Healthy At School protocol while holding in-person instruction.
For orange counties, the state recommends schools consider switching to virtual or blended learning models.
In "red" counties, where the spread of coronavirus is most severe, Kentucky recommends suspending all in-person learning and school sports competition for at least two weeks. Schools in red counties must see their county drop down to yellow before resuming in-person activities.
Beshear previously urged districts to delay starting in-person instruction until after Sept. 28, the same day the new system goes into effect.
Stack also announced a new regulation requiring Kentucky parents and guardians to report if their child has tested positive for COVID-19 to their school district within 24 hours. Schools, both public and private, are also required to report the number of positive student and staff tests to the state, as well as the number of people quarantining due to possible exposure to the virus.
Using this information, Stack said health officials will create an online, searchable dashboard that parents and administrators can use to track coronavirus cases in schools. That dashboard will be available soon on the Kentucky Department of Public Health and Department of Education websites, Stack said.
COVID-19 numbers, cases in schools
Kentucky has seen at least 57,282 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,065 total deaths as of Monday. The state's positivity rate dropped to 4.17% on Monday.
Kentucky hit another milestone this month, administering more than 1 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began. So far, more than 10,648 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered.
NKY Health reported that 4,109 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 92 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 933 active cases and 3,084 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Monday.
In Northern Kentucky schools, Beechwood Elementary School (Beechwood Independent Schools) reported a new active case of COVID-19 to the state. Campbell Ridge Elementary School (Campbell Co. Schools) reported one staffer tested positive for COVID-19, and Ft. Wright Elementary School (Kenton Co. Schools) also reported one staff case.
There are now four total active cases out of Diocese of Covington schools, including two students at Covington Catholic, one case at St. Paul Catholic School and one at St. Mary Catholic School.
Lindeman Elementary School, part of the Erlanger-Elsmere Independent School District, reported one COVID-19 case in a staff member. Bracken County High School has also reported one active case in a staff member.
Northern Kentucky University reports six active COVID-19 cases in students as of the most recent report on Monday. The university has not reported any staff cases of COVID-19. Thomas More University also reported two active student cases and zero staff cases. Gateway Community & Technical College reports one staff case.
NKY governments secure $3.8M from CARES Act
Twelve Northern Kentucky cities and counties have been awarded more than $3.8 million in CARES Act reimbursements.
Those funds will mainly be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, shore up payroll expenses for police and fire departments, and replenish small business relief programs.
Henry County, Crestview Hills, Crittenden, Dry Ridge, Elsmere, Falmouth, Fort Wright, La Grange, Lakeside Park, Maysville, Newport and Southgate applied and have each been approved for a portion of the $3.8 million.
Since the application was released in May, Kentucky's Department for Local Government has received approximately 300 applications from city and county governments across the commonwealth, and 288 local governments have been approved for more than $106 million in reimbursements.
NKY counties still in COVID-19 'yellow zone'
Several Northern Kentucky counties, including Boone and Kenton counties, continue to show positivity rates between 5% and 10%, according to the latest White House report on Sept. 9.
That keeps them in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below a "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate. Now, 24 counties of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone, up from 16.
Beshear has said the Trump administration's rating system may determine future actions in different counties, possibly including another recommended delay for in-person schooling in red counties.
The White House report also advised that Kentucky keep its mask mandate, which was renewed for another 30 days on Sept. 4.
Where to find free COVID-19 tests
In Northern Kentucky, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Covington's Gravity Diagnostics offers free, appointment-only drive-thru testing at 25 Atlantic Ave in Erlanger, the former Toyota HQ building off Mineola Pike.
The site is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You will be able to collect your own sample without leaving your vehicle and receive results within three to five days.
Additionally, appointment-only drive-up testing is available through St. E at 7200 Alexandria Pike, Alexandria. The free testing site is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Schedule an appointment at those sites online at www.stelizabeth.com/covid-testing.
To find all coronavirus testing locations near you, click here.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: