FRANKFORT, Ky. — Monday marked the first day Gov. Andy Beshear recommended students could safely return to in-person classes. The state's new color-coded guidance for holding in-person and/or online classes went into effect on Monday.
Per that guidance, in effect when Kentucky's positivity rate is less than 6%, the state assigns a color to counties each week based on the number of people per 100,000 who are infected with coronavirus there.
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 back down to yellow before resuming in-person activities.
Beshear said he's confident that Kentucky schools can reopen safely as long as districts can follow the new guidance based on the severity of coronavirus spread in their areas.
“If the approach is, ‘We’re gonna do what we’re gonna do no matter what,’ then we can’t manage the virus,” the governor said. “But for all the other school districts that are, that are looking at it and are willing to be flexible … then yes, I think we can do this and we can do it as safely as we can.”
Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman unveiled a new online dashboard for COVID-19 cases in Kentucky's schools that launched Monday. There, schools will self-report student and staff cases in their districts Monday through Friday. You can find that dashboard here.
COVID-19 in Kentucky
Kentucky has seen at least 66,939 total cases of COVID-19 and 1,162 total deaths, and Kentucky's coronavirus positivity rate now sits at 4.41%.
“I think that’s too many. I think where we are right now is maybe into the place where we’re getting into avoidable deaths,” Beshear said of the five additional deaths reported Monday.
So far, more than 11,787 people who had the virus have reportedly recovered from COVID-19, and the state has now administered more than 1.3 million coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.
NKY Health reported that 4,558 people across Boone, Kenton, Campbell and Grant counties have tested positive for COVID-19, and 96 people have reportedly died of the virus. The health department reports 849 active cases and 3,613 people who have recovered from coronavirus as of Monday.
NKY counties remain in White House's '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 Monday.
Those counties in the White House's "yellow" zone, a step below a "red" zone denoting a 10% or greater positivity rate. Campbell County now sits between those ranges in the "orange zone," indicating an increase in cases there. Currently, 14 of Kentucky's 120 counties are currently in the red zone.
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.
COVID-19 cases in schools
InNorthern Kentucky schools as of the latest report Monday, Beechwood Elementary School (Beechwood Independent Schools) reported one active case of COVID-19. Campbell Ridge Elementary School (Campbell Co. Schools) reported one staff member and one student tested positive for COVID-19.
Ft. Wright Elementary School (Kenton Co. Schools) also reports one staff case and one student case. Dixie Heights High School (Kenton Co. Schools) reports one student case, and James A. Caywood Elementary School (Kenton Co. Schools) reports two student cases and one staff case.
Both Walton-Verona Middle School and Walton-Verona High School report one staff case and one student case each.
In Boone County Schools, Chester Goodridge Elementary reported two total cases in staff members and one student case, and Stephens Elementary School reports one student case and one staff case. Ignite Institute reports two students and two staff members testing positive for COVID-19. Conner High School reports one staff case and two student cases, Larry A. Ryle High School reports one student case, and Randall K. Cooper High School reports one staff case.
There are now five total active cases out of Diocese of Covington schools, including two student cases at Covington Catholic, one case at St. Paul Catholic School, one at St. Mary Catholic School and one at St. Patrick Catholic School in Maysville. Notre Dame Academy also reports one active COVID-19 case in a staff member. 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 seen one student and one staff case.
Beshear reported at least 44 high school sports teams in Kentucky under some form of quarantine on Monday.
Northern Kentucky University reports 19 active COVID-19 cases in students as of the most recent report on Monday. Two students there have recovered from the virus, and the university has not reported any staff cases of COVID-19. Thomas More University also reported two active student cases and zero staff cases on its main campus, with an additional student case at its Center for Health Science in Edgewood. Gateway Community & Technical College reports one active staff case and two student cases.
Find free COVID-19 testing in NKY
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.
Watch the briefing live in the player below: