Virus Outbreak Kentucky

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks about the novel coronavirus during a media conference at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., on Sunday, April 19, 2020. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)

LOUISVILLE Responding to calls for greater autonomy by school administrators, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear unveiled new coronavirus guidelines Monday for re-opening.

The Democratic governor also announced 342 new cases and five additional deaths, though the number is expected to rise later in the week due to reporting delays. The Bluegrass State now has a total of 57,282 cases and over 1,000 deaths.

According to an emergency declaration signed by the governor on Monday, all public and private K-12 schools will be required to submit coronavirus data. The data will then be reflected in a school district wide-dashboard available to the public, as well as a color-coded state-map.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky’s public health commissioner, insisted that the system will help school administrators determine the level of spread in their communities more easily.

K-12 schools in green or yellow areas, for instance, could make the call to send students home for virtual instruction if their county’s positivity rate surged past 6%. Schools in counties classified as red or orange, would be encouraged to cease in-person instruction, urged Gov. Beshear.

“If you’re in the red, it’s not responsible to do every day, in-person learning,” he said. “We owe a bigger responsibility to our students.”

Last week, twenty-five counties reported positivity rates of 10% or higher.

The positivity rate is an indicator of the extent of the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. If the rate is less than 5% for two weeks and testing is widespread, the virus is considered under control. As of Monday, the total positivity rate was 4.17% statewide.

This information would allow school districts to make their own recommendations depending on local conditions in their area, Beshear said. He had previously recommended that schools wait until Sept. 28 to resume in-person classes in early August.

“There is not going to be another recommendation from my office after Sept. 28 about in-person or virtual classes,” he said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.

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