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Healthy at School plan details guidelines for next school year

June 25, 2020

Graphic by Owensboro Times

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Cloth face masks will be required both on the bus and on campus when students and staff return to school this fall according to Kentucky’s Healthy at School guidelines. They’ll also have to maintain social distancing as much as possible, and they’ll be required to have their temperature checked before entering the school.

Those are the biggest takeaways from the long-awaited guidance released Wednesday by the Kentucky Department of Education. The full, detailed document can be found here.

The guidance is divided into two categories:

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  • Safety expectations are mandatory
  • Best practices are encouraged, but not required

Kevin Brown, KDE interim commissioner, said there is leniency and flexibility built into the guidance.

“It’s obviously so we can reopen,” Brown said of all the guidelines, admitting some aspects would be either tough or controversial. “More importantly it’s so we can stay open. And, we need to make sure we are keeping our students, staff and community safe.”

Face masks can be removed if everyone in the room is 6 feet apart, but they must be worn if that distance cannot be maintained or if individuals are moving around.

Classrooms are supposed to be set up to keep everyone 6 feet apart, but Brown said their administration understands that will not be possible in many instances. 

Similarly, masks will be required on the bus because there will not be enough room to stay 6 feet apart.

Temperatures will also be checked each morning before entering the bus, unless a parent can attest that the student’s temperature is not greater than 100.4 when boarding.

Students and staff will also be subject to screening before entering the school.

Students or staff should stay home or be sent home if any of the following occur:

  • Temperature greater than 100.4
  • Cough
  • GI (vomiting/diarrhea)
  • New rash
  • Exposure to a COVID-19 case during a 48-hour period 

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Secretary of Education and Workforce Development, said many people will likely question why so many measures — including the face masks — are necessary when the severity of cases in children are so low.

She wanted to remind everyone the guidelines aren’t just in place for the children. It’s also about the sanitation workers, the bus drivers, the cafeteria staff, the teachers.

“This is not just about one group of people. This is truly about our community and making sure that everyone is safe,” Coleman said. “It is our duty to protect every child. But it is also our duty to protect every adult and every family member of the folks in those school buildings.”

Other flexibility for schools districts revolves around blending in-person and digital instruction in response to COVID-19. Schools can use an unlimited number of Non-Traditional Instruction days, and calculation for state funding has also been amended.

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Click here for all of our coronavirus coverage.

June 25, 2020

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