Ky. task force working to safely bring students back to classrooms in fall

No date set for students' return
Posted at 3:55 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 18:08:38-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said officials are currently working on guidelines to safely reopen schools in Kentucky after classrooms closed this spring due to coronavirus concerns.

Coleman said the state's "Education Continuation" task force, formed three months ago by parents, teachers, superintendents, school board members, coaches and other public education specialists, are currently creating new guidelines to be “Healthy at School.”

The new guidelines will address social distancing, wearing masks, hand sanitizing and cleaning common areas, temperature checks and contact tracing, Coleman said.

The task force would also work with each Kentucky community’s local school boards and health departments to find the best practices for bringing students back into classroom learning in the fall. Coleman said more specific guidelines and plans would be released in the coming weeks.

Officials did not give a date when schools could reopen classrooms Monday. Beshear said as children eventually begin in-person instruction again, parents should be prepared for potential intermittent school closures due to the virus.

Beshear urged Kentuckians Monday to continue wearing face masks around others in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, even if wearing a mask can be uncomfortable. He also asked Kentuckians not to think of wearing a mask as a "cultural" or political issue, but as a simple action to help keep others safe.

“The one most important thing we can do to prevent a spike to make our reopening go the way we want it to is to wear a mask,” Beshear said.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky's public health commissioner, said by wearing masks and practicing social distancing, Kentuckians can stop a "second spike" in cases seen in other states from happening here.

“There is no specific treatment for coronavirus, there is no vaccine, no treatment, no cure. That means we have to prevent it," Stack said.

On Monday, Beshear reported 505 total coronavirus-related deaths out of 12,647 virus cases so far. More than 3,400 people have recovered from the virus, and the state has tested 325,065 people so far. The virus has hospitalized 2,433 Kentuckians and left 969 people total in intensive care units.

NKY Health reported that 1,447 people in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties have tested positive for coronavirus since March and 74 people have died of the virus as of Monday.

In long term care facilities, 1,457 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 311 residents have died. In those facilities, 705 staff have contracted COVID-19 and three have died.

Beshear said coronavirus cases have been seen in all except one Kentucky county (Robertson) so far.

To find one of the 189 free coronavirus testing locations in Kentucky, click here.

What's reopening in Kentucky?

Childcare centers reopened on Monday, and low-touch, outdoor youth sports can resume as well.

On Thursday, camping was allowed to resume with social distancing. Starting Wednesday, houses of worship were allowed to begin hosting congregants at 50% capacity.

Historical horse racing facilities reopened last week with social distancing and sanitation precautions. In-home childcare was also allowed to resume last week along with horse shows, museums, outdoor attractions, libraries, aquariums and distilleries.

It was announced last week that Kentucky Speedway in Sparta would host the Quaker State 400 without fans next month, with NASCAR adding the Xfinity Series double-header to the weekend lineup.

On Tuesday, Beshear announced a Kentucky State Fair proposal for 2020 has been approved and promised a "very different" event from years past.

"The main thing is we are ensuring that we are keeping the agricultural competitions and so many of the things that make the fair so great," Beshear said during his COVID-19 briefing Tuesday. The fair is set for Aug. 20-30.

Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: