Fayette stops COVID quarantines for school exposures. At-home learning return possible.

Marcus Dorsey/mdorsey@herald-leader.com
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  • DeAndre Liggins
    DeAndre Liggins
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Starting Tuesday, Fayette County Schools will stop contact tracing and quarantines for people exposed to COVID-19 at school, Fayette Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said.

New state health guidelines allow such a move because Fayette County Schools require universal masking.

The state is seeing record breaking case numbers but as of Friday, Liggins said there are no immediate plans to return to virtual learning.

However, Liggins said, “I’m completely committed should there be a need to close schools for the safety and well-being of our students.”

He said he would not keep schools open if it was unsafe.

District officials review COVID data every morning and evening to determine if they need to make the switch.

“These will be school-by-school decisions,” he said.

Remote learning could be considered if there is a widespread outbreak of illness within the school community, if an unmanageable percentage of a school’s classroom teacher absences are unfilled or if absences of essential staff impede the school’s ability to operate safely.

Liggins on Friday held a news conference to talk about how Fayette County Public Schools will adjust its COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures to align with the latest Kentucky Department for Public Health announcements.

Although quarantines are ending, schools will still notify families and staff if an individual in the classroom has tested positive for COVID-19.

“When universal masking is in place students and staff are less likely to contract COVID-19 at school,” Liggins said.

Local health department officials and medical providers will continue to issue isolation orders for people positive for COVID-19 and the school district will continue to honor that instruction.

Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials previously spent time in Fayette schools and found that less than three percent of students who were exposed to COVID-19 at school ultimately were infected with COVID-19 and zero percent teachers or staff who were exposed at school got the virus, Liggins said.

Liggins said in-person learning is the best option because when students learned from home earlier in the pandemic, “there were very serious academic losses as well as social and emotional losses.”

In addition to required masks, the district will continue to push handwashing and physical distancing and encourage vaccinations. Liggins said the district had made air quality improvements in buildings.

Beginning Wednesday, voluntary testing for students and employees will be available at every school on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays before classes and at other locations. The district’s Test-to-Stay in class program will continue.

Those who have been placed in quarantine by the health department because of an out of school exposure can quarantine at home or participate in Test-to-Stay.

Students and staff still have to report to district officials within 24 hours if they are positive.

On another front, Fayette schools may opt for NTI, or the state approved at-home non-traditional instruction program instead of closings or delays in the event of severe winter weather.

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