KENTUCKY — As school districts throughout the commonwealth allow parents to decide whether their kids return to physical classrooms, Kentucky’s health department all but promised an all-out effort on coronavirus contact tracing before classes begin.

What You Need To Know

  • Kentucky's health department announces increased contact tracing efforts

  • Department plans to bring total contact tracers up to 1,100

  • Teachers will play part in contact tracing efforts as well

Mark Carter, executive advisor to the state’s health department, announced a “full force” effort Wednesday to bring contact tracing worker numbers up to 1,100 by the end of July. Many of these workers are expected to help school officials once a positive test is discovered within a building, but it will require effort from teachers as well.

"You’re great at keeping attendance," Carter said during the Wednesday video conference with health officials and school superintendents. "But for the teachers to know where their students are sitting, who’s close to them, those kinds of things would assist in a disease investigation."

Hart County Assistant Superintendent Debbie Fowler says there are enough laptops to move all schooling online if cases spike there. For now, she says, her staff is prepared for this added burden beyond teaching.

"If we do have a positive case – which we’re hoping we do not, but if we do – we would contact the health department and they would work with our designee to determine individuals throughout the day who might have come closer than six-foot to that individual," Fowler said in a phone interview with Spectrum News 1.

Testing remains crucial to efforts isolating sick people until they can recover. A state health department spokesperson told Spectrum News 1 turnaround times vary by lab, and that Kentucky testing sites used numerous labs. Therefore, the health department cannot accurately predict how quickly results will be processed. While they wait for results, school faculty members have been told to keep track of who could have come close to a potentially infected student, before handing the precious information over to contact tracers once a positive test is confirmed.

It’s one puzzle parents and teachers aren’t eager to have in their classrooms.