UPDATE: Lee County schools reopen classes Thursday with some limits
UPDATE POSTED 7 P.M. AUG. 18, 2021
LEE COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – The difficulties school districts face trying to balance health and safety with the demand for in-person instruction continues at districts across the region.
As one of several examples, Lee County Schools, which canceled classes earlier this week, is resuming classes Thursday with some limits. Below is a message the district posted Wednesday evening:
School IS In Session Thursday and Friday
I am reaching out to let you know that we will have school tomorrow, August 19th and plan to be in session on Friday the 20th as well. However, we must ask all 5th grade students to not attend school. While we do not like to ask one full group of students to remain out of school, our 5th grade was hit the hardest in both staff and students who had positive results, and we need parents to continue to monitor for symptoms and take your child to his or her physician if you think he or she may be ill. 5th grade students will be counted as quarantined and will be able to make up work at a later date if teachers have not had a chance to set up their Google Classrooms. We will determine on Friday if we will be able to bring them back next week and will let families know.
It is very important for families to keep their children home if they are showing signs of illness. While a fever or chills is definitely a symptom of COVID-19, other symptoms may include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. If your child has these symptoms and you need to have them seen by a physician please notify the school in the morning.
The recent surge in the Delta variant of COVID-19 appears to be more contagious and be spreading quickly through our community. To help stop the spread, we need to work together both inside of school and outside to try to maintain social distancing or gather in small groups, wear masks when in school or outside of school when in close proximity to those outside your family, and follow CDC recommendations to reduce transmission.
Our district has now contracted with Wild Health for testing and vaccinations. We have attached a testing consent form to the Superintendent Message page from our district website and will send home permission forms with students tomorrow. If you would like your children to participate in either routine screenings or any time they present with symptoms or are around a positive case of COVID-19, please sign the form and return it to your child’s school. You can mark any option on the form you would like. This is a completely optional program we are offering in an attempt to keep our students in school as much as possible.
We know that our school buses are congested with the students riding at this time because we are having school with a full population of students. Buses concern us greatly on the spread of COVID and on our ability to contact trace who may need to quarantine. We will continue to offer school bus transportation, but if you have the ability to transport your child, you may want to do that on a short term basis until the spread of the disease slows back down. If you would like to transport for the near future please send a note to school tomorrow that your child will be a pick up until further notice.
As superintendent, I want to thank all of you for your patience, understanding, and kind words as we have had to make these difficult decisions. We definitely want to provide in person learning for our students and are doing everything we can to make that happen while keeping staff and students as safe as possible. If your child is 12 or older and you want to have them vaccinated please reach out to our local health department or your family physician. The majority of the positive tests from our staff have been unvaccinated individuals and those that have been vaccinated seem, for the most part, to have fewer symptoms. We look forward to seeing our students again tomorrow, and remember that masks are required to be worn by students and staff unless an exemption is on file.
ORIGINAL STORY POSTED AUG. 16, 2021
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A Kentucky school district canceled classes after several children and staff members tested positive for COVID-19 as the highly contagious delta variant causes a statewide surge of new infections.
Lee County public schools will be closed for three days through Wednesday to allow time for coronavirus test results and to enable some staff members who went into quarantine last week to possibly return to school Thursday, Superintendent Sarah Wasson said on social media.
“This will be a tough year and we don’t want to have to shut down this early, but if we can determine who is positive now we believe we can stay in school longer,” she said Sunday.
One child in kindergarten, one first-grader and one fourth-grader tested positive, Wasson said. Students within 6 feet (2 meters) of the infected children for more than 15 minutes were asked to quarantine, she said. Five staff members also tested positive, she said.
The eastern Kentucky district began the fall semester last Tuesday. Later that day, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear required mask-wearing in K-12 schools statewide as the fast-spreading delta variant causes waves of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.
On the first day of classes, Lee County schools required masks on school buses and “highly recommended” that all students and staff wear masks in schools. The district promptly complied with the Democratic governor’s mask mandate starting the next day.
Beshear pointed to the school closure in a Monday tweet, saying: “Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask is how our kids stay in school. Let’s put their education first and do the right thing.”
Without masks, children not old enough to receive the coronavirus vaccine would be defenseless against the virus, the governor said last week. The number of children infected with the virus has risen sharply amid the delta variant outbreak. Children under age 12 are not eligible for the shots.
Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron last week called the mask order an “unlawful exercise of power” and challenged the governor’s action in the Kentucky Supreme Court. The state’s high court also is reviewing new GOP-backed laws meant to rein in the governor’s executive powers.