FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Monday that he is recommending Kentucky’s public and private schools not reopen to in-person classes until September 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Yes, that’s about six weeks from now,” he said during a Capitol press briefing, “But it’s also six weeks from what I hope is the peak of this virus. That’s six weeks from the last three weeks, where we have been pretty much at an all-time high, week in and week out.”
Beshear said while wearing masks is working, 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.”
The governor said his recommendation was based after considering four factors: Kentucky’s number of 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 hotspots for vacations against the advice of health officials.
He acknowledged that many children are falling behind, due to the lack of in-person instruction.
“My kids are in that developmental time when they need to be in schools,” the Governor said. “But their overall health and safety, along with that of their teachers and others, has to be paramount, and we have to have a plan that has an opportunity of working.”
Each school district superintendent will have the final say on when in-person classes resume, and Beshear said if they wish to begin earlier with distance learning, that’s fine. He said he wants to avoid the situation in other states where they opened school for a couple days, saw a spike in COVID-19 cases, and then had to change to on-line classes.
La Tasha Buckner, the governor’s chief of staff and general counsel, announced a new executive order covering bars and restaurants in Kentucky, which takes effect on Tuesday.
“It will allow bars to reopen and restaurants to increase their capacity,” Buckner said. “Both bars and restaurants can operate at 50% of capacity, as long as people can remain six feet from anyone who is not in their household or group.”
There are new requirements to go along with that. Customers in both bars and restaurants will be required to remain in their seats, except when entering, leaving or using the restroom. They will also have to stop food and beverage service by 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m., local time.
She added, “As the governor mentioned previously, the face-covering requirement has been extended as of Sunday for another 30 days. Therefore, just like in other businesses, all customers and staff must wear a face covering while in the bar or restaurant except when actively eating or drinking.”
Gov. Beshear announced there were 275 new cases reported Monday. 13 of them were from children ages 5 and younger, including five who are less than a year old. That brings the state’s total to at least 35,254. Kentucky’s positivity rate dropped back below six percent, to 5.71 percent.
He noted that a technical issue with the state’s data processor is causing a delay in some reporting, leading to lower numbers that will be updated later this week. “Today’s number needs to have a giant asterisk on it, because we know that number is higher and will change,” he stated.
Beshear also reported there were two new deaths Monday, raising the total to 775 Kentuckians lost to the virus. They include a 60-year-old woman from Graves County and a 98-year-old woman from Lincoln County.
As of Monday, there have been at least 700,417 coronavirus tests performed in Kentucky, and at least 8,738 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus.
There are currently 641 Kentuckians who have been hospitalized, 155 of whom are in the ICU.
Beshear said his next press briefing will be Tuesday at 4 p.m., EDT.