FRANKFORT, Ky. — The start of the 2021-2022 school year is quickly approaching and as much as things will be "back to normal," precautions must still be taken.
Thursday, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) released new guidance on ways schools can help slow the spread of the coronavirus in schools.
DPH says a return to in-person instruction for students is a top priority in the state. It says it hopes the document, "Guidance for K-12 School Operations for In-Person Learning," will provide information to protect students, teachers and staff in grades K-12.
The new guidelines are based on updated U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention guidelines released on July 9. Every school district and its leaders are being asked to review the document and use it to help make decisions in the coming school year.
The document understands there are a lot of students who won't be vaccinated, especially those in K-6 grades, as well as some teachers and staff; it says a layered approach will be needed to help keep everyone safe.
The document has a lengthy list of strategies that schools and administrators are urged to follow. Schools are being asked to share the plans with their communities.
Some of the recommended layered prevention strategies include:
- Vaccinations — promote and offer vaccinations to increase the proportion of students (12 years of age or older), teachers, staff, and family members who are vaccinated
- Masks — recommend masks for unvaccinated persons while indoors in all classroom and non-classroom settings.
- Require masks on public transportation, including buses operated by public and private school systems
- Physical distancing — a distance of at least 3 feet is recommended between K-12 students in classrooms where everyone is fully vaccinated
- Physical distancing of at least 6 feet is recommended between students and teachers/staff, and between unvaccinated teachers/staff.
- Ventilation — ventilation should be improved to increase outdoor air and promote clean air circulation.
- Hand-washing — continue to teach proper hand-washing and respiratory techniques
- Isolation — make sure any students, teachers or staff experiencing symptoms stay home. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate. Anyone feeling ill should contact a health care provider.
- Quarantine and contact tracing — schools should work with the local health department to facilitate case investigation and contact tracing.
- Cleaning and disinfecting — schools should improve facility cleaning as much as possible.
These are the main points of the new guidance document. You can read the full details online.