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Governor Andy Beshear announces fall COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools as positivity rate nears 8%

Masks recommended indoors for all children under 12, unvaccinated Kentuckians 12 and older
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state has seen weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases due to...
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state has seen weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant – the dominant strain in the state now.(Kentucky Governor's Office)
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 3:55 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) - In a COVID-19 news conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Andy Beshear and other state leaders shared new masking recommendations for K-12 schools in response to the highly contagious COVID-19 delta variant.

“Our priority is our kids,” said Gov. Beshear. “How we make decisions has to come from one simple place: What gives us the best chance to have our kids in school the maximum number of days in the midst of a pandemic? That is our North Star.”

Gov. Beshear and the state officials agreed Kentucky’s challenge is that the delta variant spreads quickly and aggressively among unvaccinated people of all ages. Without mitigation efforts, they expect the delta variant will spread through unvaccinated classrooms and throughout buildings resulting in large, frequent quarantines of students and staff.

Therefore, the Governor recommended the following:

  • School districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings;
  • School districts should require all students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings; and
  • School districts wishing to optimize safety and minimize risk of educational and athletic disruption should require all students and all adults to wear a mask while in classrooms and other indoor school settings.

“Those working in and learning in our schools know what to do to keep in-person learning going and to do so safely. We have already definitively proven that,” said Commissioner Glass. “Now as conditions have shifted again with the rise of the delta variant and reinfections, we need to call once again upon your courage, dedication and commitment to keep our schools open for school this fall.”

K-12 COVID-19 Testing Program

The K-12 School COVID-19 Testing Program is a voluntary program offered by KDPH in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Kentucky K-12 schools to assist in reopening safely for in-person instruction.

“We’ve been given $134 million by the federal government to create a testing program for K-12 schools, public and private, throughout the entire commonwealth,” said Dr. Stack. “I urge everyone who operates a school out there to explore the options and make testing available to keep yourselves safe.”

Superintendents and school administrators can learn more here.

  • Testing will be limited to staff and students of Kentucky K-12 public, private and charter schools and includes school district employees and staff (contracted or otherwise), such as bus drivers, maintenance, office staff or as determined by the school administrator.
  • The K-12 School COVID-19 Testing Program will operate the entire 2021-22 academic year.
  • Participation in the school-based COVID-19 screening testing program is voluntary and at no-cost.

You can watch that below:

The governor also announced 783 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total case number to 476,650.

174 of Monday’s new cases were children 18 and younger. 486 Kentuckians remain hospitalized with 159 in the ICU. 71 patients remain on a ventilator. The state’s positivity rate climbed to 7.89%, the 30th straight day of an increasing positivity rate.

Gov. Beshear also announced two deaths Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to 7,314.

7,129,448 tests have been administered thus far and 2,278,834 Kentuckians have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Monday, 23 of the state’s 120 counties are in the red zone on the state’s COVID-19 incidence rate map, including Clay, Floyd, Jackson, Laurel, Letcher, and Whitley Counties here in Eastern Kentucky.

If you have any questions about the coronavirus in Kentucky, call the state’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-722-5725.

You can also find more information, including how to protect your family, by visiting Kentucky’s official COVID-19 website: https://govstatus.egov.com/kycovid19

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