Exposed to COVID-19, Kentucky Board of Education members exit in-person retreat

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After being exposed to COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon at an in-person retreat, Kentucky Board of Education members recessed, left their meeting room and resumed in a virtual session.

The board was in a conference room at the Kentucky Department of Education building in Frankfort. The meeting was livestreamed. People in the room were wearing masks. Members of the public had previously been invited to watch virtually from another room.

After the board recessed for lunch around 12:20 or 12:30 p.m.., the meeting resumed virtually about 3 p.m. Board chairwoman Lu Young then said that board members had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID, but she did not provide details.

Toni Konz Tatman, an Education Department spokeswoman told the Herald-Leader that “due to a positive COVID-19 contact in the room, we had to switch the retreat to virtual. “

“Tomorrow’s meeting will also be virtual,” Tatman said. Members of the public will still be able to watch Thursday’s regular meeting from a room, as was previously advertised in a meeting notice, she said.

Tatman said she could not say who had tested positive.

“I cannot disclose who the person is due to privacy laws,” Tatman said in an email. “In all, there were 30 people (this includes KBE board members, KDE staff and invited guests) who came in contact with the person who received notification of the positive COVID test.”

“At this time, we believe everyone was vaccinated so no one will have to be quarantined and everyone wore masks except when they were speaking,” Tatman said.

Young said at Thursday’s virtual Kentucky Board of Education said the board’s COVID scare reminded her of what schools are facing in the fall.

“I was so glad we were masked and distanced and ...most importantly vaccinated,” Young said.

Allison Slone, a teacher representative on the board, posted on Facebook Wednesday that the board was reconvening virtually from their homes and hotel rooms.

“We have all been vaccinated so the possibility is much lower,” Slone said. “Please send well wishes to my fellow KBE members and all the public school employees and students across the commonwealth as we navigate through the rise in cases, quarantines, and tests.”

A Kentucky Department of Education post about the COVID exposure led some people to post comments calling for mask mandates for Kentucky schools.

Gov. Andy Beshear has said everyone inside a K-12 Kentucky school should be wearing a mask this fall, regardless of vaccination status. Beshear did not make the recommendation a mandate.

Several Kentucky school districts have made mask wearing optional for the 2021-2022 school year. Fayette County Public Schools is requiring mask wearing inside schools.

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