Governor wants schools to be virtual for six weeks

Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:02 am

In his Monday afternoon update to the state on the efforts to continue to battle COVID-19 spread in Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear strongly suggested that all schools in Kentucky, public and private, do not begin in-class instruction until September 28.

Despite that recommendation on Monday afternoon, Clinton County School Superintendent Tim Parson was still unable, at mid-day Tuesday, to give the Clinton County News a decision about local schools starting.

In a text message to a Clinton County News reporter just prior to this week’s press deadline, Parson said he hoped to be able to have a final decision by the end of the day Tuesday.

The NEWS will include more details about the situation with classes for local students in next week’s edition. Updates will be posted on the NEWS Facebook page as they become available.

Students were originally scheduled to begin classes next Monday, August 17, with in-classroom instruction.

Parents would have the option of doing virtual instruction as well, under the original school opening plans.

Clinton County has seen its biggest addition of new COVID-19 cases during a one week period, with 11 new cases here last Tuesday and this past Monday, according to the Lake Cumberland District Health Department.

“Our recommendation today is that schools wait to begin in-person classes until September 28,” the Governor said Monday. “Yes, that’s six weeks from now, but it’s also six weeks from what I hope is the peak of this virus, six weeks from the last three weeks where we have been at an all-time high week in and week out, six weeks from a time when we just had a six percent positivity rate. Let’s face it, we’re trying really hard and we’ve taken good steps. Masks are working. But we do not have control over this virus. And to send tens of thousands of our kids back into in-person classes when we don’t have control of this virus, it’s not the right thing to do for these kids, it’s not the right thing to do for their faculty and it’s not the right thing to do as Governor.”

Beshear qualified that suggestion at the very beginning of Monday’s news conference, by stressing what a critical stage Kentucky was currently in, in regards to the COVID-19 virus.

“Let me start by reiterating that we are still in a very difficult, dangerous place with a virus that is spreading so significantly right now,” the Governor said. “One of the foremost experts this morning talked about it raging in the United States. I believe we have stopped the exponential growth, but we can’t just stay where we are. We have got to start decreasing our cases.”

He said the decision was driven by four factors: Kentucky’s cases being near a peak, an increase in infection rates among children across the U.S., the experience of school districts in other states and families continuing to travel to hot spots for vacations against the advice of health officials.

“I think what all of the health care specialists said when we talked about reopening is we need to be looking at a decline. In other words, we need to get our positive rate down,” the Governor said. “On top of that, what we’re seeing are more outbreaks and more infections in kids. The two hardest things I do every day is read the deaths and the number of kids infected under five. And it’s not just kids under five. We’re having record numbers of children that are infected, and it shows this infection spreads to them when we still don’t know the long-term impact. What we do know is children have a harder time social distancing. And we can’t put a whole bunch of them in a classroom with a teacher right now. Other states that have tried to open this new school year are now having to close. We don’t want to start and stop. That may be more difficult on our children.”

As of Tuesday morning, Clinton County officials were showing 13 active cases of COVID-19 among local residents.