Health department in Lexington prioritizing posting COVID-19 cases among school-aged children

Fayette County Public Schools says posting data will ensure the district has up-to-date information

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – During its weekly COVID-19 report to Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS), the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department shared that posting data for cases among school-aged children is being prioritized to ensure the school district has up-to-date information, according to Superintendent Demetrus Liggins.

The health department’s Interim Chief Administrative Officer, Jessica Cobb, says the county continues to see an increase in COVID-19 cases and that online reports continue to be incomplete because there isn’t enough staff to keep up with the surge of cases and related reporting.

The health department is encouraging people who receive a positive lab result from a medical provider (not an at-home test) to:

-Email covidinterview@lfchd.org and provide the person’s name, date of birth, phone number and home address, OR

-Call 859-288-2445, for people who don’t have internet access.

Those who email will receive a response from the health department with a link to a survey to complete related to the person who tested positive.  If more than one person in the household has received a positive lab result, the health department will need to be notified of each person with individual contact information.

FCPS says for the week of Jan. 11-17, 2022, there were 794 new student COVID-19 cases and 172 new staff cases.  The district was quick to point out those statistics translate into 1.9% of the student body and 2.2% for staff.  FCPS has roughly 42,000 students and 8,000 employees.

Under new guidelines from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, students and staff will no longer be placed in quarantine for in-school exposures in settings with universal mask requirements. As such, the FCPS COVID-19 Dashboard will no longer report quarantine data.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is providing FREE Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines for individuals ages 12 and older at the Lexington Senior Center, 195 Life Lane, on:

Note: A legal guardian MUST be present at the time of the shot for children between the ages of 12 and 17.

Fayette County Public Schools has partnered with Wild Health to offer free vaccination clinics at convenient school locations. Register here for clinics to be held on:

Thursday, Jan. 20

  • 8 a.m. to noon at Jessie Clark Middle, 3341 Clays Mill Road
  • 8 a.m. to noon at Tates Creek Middle, 1105 Centre Parkway
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at Morton Middle, 1225 Tates Creek Road

Friday, Jan. 21

  • 8 a.m. to noon at Beaumont Middle, 2080 Georgian Way
  • 8 a.m. to noon at SCAPA at Bluegrass, 400 Lafayette Parkway
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at Bryan Station Middle, 1865 Wickland Drive
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at Winburn Middle, 1060 Winburn Drive

Here is a summary of items discussed during the January 18, 2022 meeting of the Fayette County Public Schools Core COVID-19 Team:

Updated COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines

Last week the district released revised health and safety protocols aligned to changes from the Kentucky Department for Public Health. Review them here.

Testing at School

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, the district’s healthcare partners will offer COVID-19 testing by appointment only for FCPS students and employees at every school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The testing is free and voluntary.

Under new state guidelines, students and staff are now eligible to participate in the Test-to-Stay-In-School program regardless of where they were exposed to COVID-19 as long as:

  • They are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and
  • They test negative during free on-campus testing before school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Sign up at your school (students or staff)

Since this is a new program, we have revised our COVID-19 testing consent form. Previous versions are no longer valid because they were related only to the Test to Stay in School initiatives. The new form emphasizes that testing can only be done at the request of a parent or guardian. For your student to be tested at school upon your request, please complete the consent form below. If you completed one before Jan. 14, please submit the new version.

Below is this week’s message to families from Supt. Liggins:

I hope this week’s newsletter finds you safe and warm following the weekend’s winter storm. Although main roads were clear, neighborhood streets and sidewalks were too icy for us to safely have school today. We are grateful for the opportunity to use NTI (non-traditional instruction) for weather days.

You should have received information from your child’s school or teacher, but to recap, students have three school days starting tomorrow to complete the assignments from today.

If you had any hiccups with Chromebooks or hotspots, please reach out to your child’s school tomorrow so we can get everything taken care of before the next blast of snow heads our way tomorrow night. As a native Texan, I believe I will see more snow this month than in my entire life previously.

While students do not log on at specific times for NTI weather days, we will provide live online instruction should a school switch to remote learning because of COVID-19. Under these circumstances, teachers are also required to come into the building to teach.

Our district is prepared — as we have been since school started in August — to shift to remote learning should circumstances warrant. Throughout the day, school and district leaders keep a close eye on COVID-19 case data, as well as student and staff absences and the ability to provide staff coverage for safe school operations.

In September, we moved Dixie Elementary temporarily to remote learning, and we will not hesitate to make a similar decision at any school when appropriate. I do want to clear up some misinformation that I have heard in our community. There is no link between in-person instruction and funding for schools. Whether our students are learning on campus or learning remotely, our funding and operating costs are the same.

Two questions are at the heart of many of the comments I receive:

  • Is it safe to stay in school?
  • Is being in-person better than remote learning?

Our data shows that it is safe to be in school. When the CDC was here in the fall studying our test-to-stay program, they found that because of the layered mitigation measures we are using, less than 3 percent of the students exposed to COVID-19 at school contracted the virus. Also, there were no instances of staff testing positive due to exposure from students at school.

The negative effects of prolonged remote learning on our students, employees, and families have been well-documented. While we hope a transition to remote learning would be short-term, we don’t know what the next phase of the virus holds. Each time we’ve seen record-high case numbers they have been eclipsed in the next surge.

Although our absences are higher than normal, we have to ask ourselves if the 8 out of 10 students who were in school on Friday received a better experience than they would have in remote learning. We know that many of our students rely on our schools for food, mental health support, medical care, and connection to trusted adults and peers. We want to be able to provide all of those services and advantages for as long as we safely can. Our students deserve no less.

Please be safe and stay healthy,

DL

Categories: Coronavirus Updates, Featured, Local News, News

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