State officials on Monday discussed new K-12 COVID-19 reporting requirements for public and private schools as well as allowing local control regarding in-person classes. Gov. Andy Beshear also said he wouldn’t make any overall recommendations after Sept. 28, instead providing tools to help districts make their own decisions.
Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack said an emergency regulation addressing K-12 COVID-19 reporting requirements was filed Monday in order to allow public access to the data.
Beginning Sept. 28, all parents and guardians are required to report to the child’s school within 24 hours if their child tests positive for COVID-19.
All schools must report the number of new cases among students and staff, as well as the number quarantined, every day school is in session.
Stack said the Kentucky Department of Education is sending instructions to schools on how to register with the online portal and report this data.
“Publicly reporting this data is a necessary tool to enable students, parents and communities to make informed decisions COVID-19 risk in collaboration with the education and public health communities,” Stack said.
Stack said KDPH still will publish its K-12 public health reports, available on the kycovid19.ky.gov website.
In addition to reporting protocols, Stack provided updated guidance for schools on a variety of instructional modes.
“Superintendents have requested local control. They have asked us to give them a metric to decide,” Stack said. “This tool provides the metric and public health guidance attached to it.”
He said the guidance is in effect as long as the state’s positivity rate is less than 6% and the health care system has enough resources.
A color-coded map showing incidence rates will provide districts with corresponding guidance. It will be updated every Thursday evening to guide schools for the following week.
Schools in green and yellow areas essentially follow KDE Healthy at Schools guidance. Schools in an orange zone should take enhanced measures, including more aggressive crowd limits, and should consider a variety of factors to determine what mode of instruction they should use.
If a county reaches red, then in-person instruction should be suspended the following week and only remote learning should occur. However, schools may still use small groups per KDE guidance for special circumstances.
“Let me be clear, that there is not going to be an overall recommendation coming from me or my office post-Sept. 28,” Beshear said. “What’s going to be provided is the information to make a week-by-week decision in our various school districts and counties based on prevalence and what public health experts believe is the right course based on that prevalence.”
Stack added: “Once a county reaches red, it should return to yellow before resuming in-person instruction to allow for disease activity to return to a safer level and to increase the probability of successfully staying open for in-person instruction upon reopening.”
In addition, Stack said the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has published and continues to update its guidance on COVID-19. He said the KDPH is collaborating with officials.