Fayette County Schools says fraction of student/staff absences due to COVID-19

Employees from the district support services office are helping cover substitute vacancies

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Despite rampant rumors to the contrary, Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) are not switching back to online learning only at this time as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the county rise, according to an update Tuesday from Superintendent Demetrus Liggins.

The superintendent says the district is monitoring cases and quarantines carefully and is prepared to adjust protocols if necessary.  Supt. Liggins says despite a higher than usual number of absences since returning from holiday break, only a fraction of them are COVID related.

As of Jan. 11, 2022, 1,131 students and six employees were in quarantine, according to the school district.

From Jan. 4-10, 2022, the district had 601 new student cases, 159 new staff cases, 893 new student quarantines and 7 new staff quarantines, according to FCPS.

Supt. Liggins says staff from the district support services office is joining school staff to cover substitute vacancies and provide continuity of service for students.  A similar move was made last semester due to a shortage of cafeteria workers.

The school district continues its pre-announced schedule of bus cancellations and delays due to an ongoing bus driver shortage.

FCPS has partnered with Wild Health to offer free COVID-19 vaccination clinics this week on designated days and times at the district’s high schools for everyone who is eligible.

Below is the weekly coronavirus update from Supt. Liggins:

Please take a moment to watch a video update from Dr. Liggins.

Dear FCPS Families and Team FCPS:

The last 22 months have taught us that the only thing we know for certain about COVID-19 is that it will change. Whether that is the development of a new variant, advancements in vaccinations and treatments, or the emergence of new discoveries about how to combat the virus, we have to constantly monitor new developments and be prepared to adjust.

The pandemic is constantly evolving, which requires us to stay on top of new information and be flexible. The Kentucky Department of Public Health released new guidance for schools late yesterday afternoon. Listen to my video message to hear more on our response to the new guidelines.

I understand that the Omicron variant and winter storm have made the first week of school this semester difficult. I am listening to you and working diligently with our team to take all necessary steps to safeguard the health of our students, employees and families.

We are monitoring cases and quarantines carefully, and we are closely watching student and staff absences. Although we are seeing higher than usual absence numbers, only a fraction of them are COVID related.

District and school leaders are in constant communication to determine if circumstances warrant shifting a school or class to remote learning because of COVID. We took that action when appropriate in the fall and will do so again if necessary. Despite the rumors, there are no plans to switch to remote learning at this time.

Guidance from medical experts continues to be that schools can safely provide in-person learning with layered precautionary measures including universal masking. We also know that keeping our students in school with caring educators and wrap-around supports is the best way to nurture their academic success and social-emotional well-being.

Just as Team FCPS pulled together to serve food in the cafeterias during the fall, staff from the district support services office is joining school staff to cover substitute vacancies and provide continuity of service for students. Thank you for your patience and continued support.

Please be well and take care of each other,

DL

 

Also on Tuesday, Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh and other representatives of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department shared that they are working diligently to enter cases into their data system. Although they had staff working during the holidays, they are behind due to the sheer volume of cases reported. Although the seven-day rolling average in Fayette County today is 707, he cautioned that the data is incomplete.

He also provided an update on vaccination status among school aged children:

  • Aged 5 to 11: 35% at least one dose, 25% two doses
  • Aged 12-15: 69% at least one dose, 57% two doses, 2% boosted
  • Aged 16-17: 75% at least one dose, 63% two doses; 12% boosted

Here are the case and quarantine totals for the past week (1/4/22 to 1/10/22) within the Fayette County Public Schools district, which has roughly 42,000 students and 8,000 employees:

  • 601 new student cases
  • 159 new staff cases
  • 893 new student quarantines
  • 7 new staff quarantines

As of January 11, 2022, 1,131 students and six employees are currently in quarantine.

A note about the data: The district has elected to voluntarily report the number of COVID-19 cases and quarantines among students and employees on its COVID-19 Dashboard. Data is updated in real time, as information is received from families, employees, schools, the FCPS COVID-19 call center, and the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department. The COVID-19 call center at 859-381-FCPS(3277) is fully staffed and open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Here is a summary of items discussed during the January 11, 2022 meeting of the Fayette County Public Schools COVID-19 Core Team:

Vaccination Clinics: FCPS has partnered with Wild Health to offer free vaccination clinics for all eligible individuals at convenient school locations. Register here for clinics to be held:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 12
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at Bryan Station High School, 201 Eastin Road
  • Thursday, Jan. 13
  • 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Henry Clay High School, 2100 Fontaine Road
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at Tates Creek High School, 1111 Centre Parkway
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, 1600 Man o’ War Blvd.
  • Friday, Jan. 14
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at Frederick Douglass High School, 2000 Winchester Road

Vaccinations for all ages (including boosters) are also available daily, Monday through Sunday, from noon until 6 p.m. at 100 Midland Avenue. Register here

Child Nutrition and Transportation Staffing Update:

  • As is normal at the beginning of a new semester, there are new openings in many of our district departments. If you know anyone who is interested in joining Team FCPS as a bus driver, bus monitor, or child nutrition employee, please apply here.
  • Until we can fill all of our routes, we will continue with a preannounced schedule of bus cancellations and delays. The week that their bus route does not run, families should try to find another way for their child to get to and from school. If they are unable to make other transportation arrangements, the child’s absence will be excused. If an afternoon bus route is delayed, transportation will be available at 4:45 p.m. after other routes are completed and additional drivers are available. Families are encouraged to find a different way home for their children. FCPS will send reminder emails, calls, and text messages to affected families the week before. Click herefor a list of January’s morning cancellations and afternoon delays.

 

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