KEA says virus positivity rate too high for in-person classes

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – The union for Kentucky’s teachers said Friday that the state’s public schools should not resume in-person instruction until COVID-19 positivity rates at state and county levels fall and stay below the 4% level.

In a lengthy statement, the KEA, a group of nearly 42,000 educators statewide, said the COVID-19 pandemic is worse now than when schools closed in early spring.

“By every objective measure, and without public schools being open at all during the last few months, the coronavirus situation in Kentucky at this moment is far worse than it was in March,” the Kentucky Education Association said in a statement. “If we all believed it wasn't safe to operate schools then, how can it possibly be safe to reopen now?”

In the statement, the KEA said schools should not resume in-person instruction until the infection rate for both the state and the county in which a school district is located “fall below 4% and both remain below 4% for 21 consecutive days as measured by a 7-day rolling average."

"Districts must also consider other factors unique to their own communities, such as the infection rate among school-aged children and whether the Department of Public Health supports their reopening plan," the KEA said.

"Doing anything else is simply irresponsible,” the teachers union said. "Even when those benchmarks are met, school districts that plan to reopen to in-person instruction must implement appropriate, comprehensive mitigation procedures, most continue to offer virtual instruction to families that request it, must accommodate staff members who are at high risk or who live with a person at high risk, and must be read to return entirely to virtual instruction if the state or county metrics requite it.”

Kentucky's positivity rate for COVID-19 tests was 5.57% on Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear said. It has been several weeks since the positivity rate was lower than 4%.

Beshear spokeswoman Crystal Staley said the governor's office has spoken with the KEA and its members.

“This is an education first administration that recognizes and understands the concerns of our hardworking educators, and would never advocate for them to be put in harm’s way,” Staley said. “Next week, we will be providing additional commentary on how and when we believe it will be safe to resume in-person classes.”


Beshear's administration has released guidelines for returning teachers and students that includes masking in class and unlimited virtual learning days. In response to questions though the governor said he would prefer that schools delay in-class instruction.

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ray davis

Children of K-12 school ages rarely get the virus and if they do, barely have symptoms and rarely spread it to adults--that is the science. Teachers should wear masks if they wish; younger children should not and older students only if they have compromised immune systems or prefer to do so. Older teachers and those with weak immune systems may want to stay sequestered.

The KEA is a union, though the typists for the media rarely say those words. It always seeks first to protect and increase its dues payers and rarely considers what is best for the children. Its leaders and members should be ashamed to hold hostage school children while they interact with employees at Kroger, Home Depot and restaurants and while Toyota employs almost 10,000 people safely building automobiles. If these organizations can operate safely during this outbreak--AND THEY ARE--so can schools.

Keeping schools closed to in-person learning is damaging to children and to society, since many, especially lower income parents, cannot afford to stay home and cannot afford child care in order to work.

Almost half the deaths accorded to the virus have occurred in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. We must protect this group and the rest of us should live our lives and go to work. We have known for several months the characteristics of this new virus and how to respond to it. Political leaders are destroying our society by continuing this shutdown nonsense. The Governor should lead instead of fueling fear and issuing diktats that are destroying people's lives. His lack of leadership is wrecking the lives of thousands if not millions.

Saturday, August 8

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