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Today Governor Andy Beshear announced recommendations that his administration is communicating to local school districts as the statewide infection rate crept close to 8%. Beshear stopped short of issuing mandates, but noted that they would not be off the table if he sees the need to step in.
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Mitigation efforts could include masking, distancing, cleaning protocols and quarantines. In Fort Thomas, the space and ability to socially distance under CDC and KDE guidance is a consideration the District will be able to consider, along with the lower positivity rate and higher vaccination regional rate as compared to the rest of the state.
The recommendations he and Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky Commissioner of Public Health, communicated today were:
1) School districts should require all unvaccinated students and unvaccinated adults to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
2) School districts should require all students under 12 years of age to wear a mask when in classrooms and other indoor school settings.
3) 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 the classroom and other indoor school settings.
Beshear also noted that he believed the way out of the pandemic is to continue for Kentuckians to receive the vaccine.
Vaccinations among Kentuckians have exceeded 2.278 million total shots, which included an uptick of 30,000 last week. Beshear said that Kentucky had been averaging 20,000 vaccinations in recent week.
He said that new COVID-19 cases are being driven by the Delta variant, and that the vast majority of new infections among unvaccinated Kentuckians.
"The answer to the entire pandemic is to get the vaccine," said Beshear. "This is how to keep it spreading in schools, to maximize the number of days we have kids in schools. My kids are going to follow this. This is clear, and there should be no room for debate."
Additionally, Lt. Gov. Jaqueline Coleman added that said she and and Kentucky Board of Education Chair Lu Young had call today with KHSAA Director Julian Tackett on the future of high school sports in Kentucky over the next year. She said that Tackett indicated that the board overseeing athletics are in agreement with the Beshear administration.
"We are all on same page, which is that we are looking to CDC for guidance," said Coleman. "(Tackett) told us that 25% of all high school football and basketball games were lost in Kentucky last year due to COVID.
Having kids in school is important for athletics too."