School district must report numbers on positive COVID-19 tests and quarantines
A new emergency order from the state requires that beginning Monday, Sept. 28, school districts must report the number of students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 and the number of students and staff in quarantine as a result of school-related interactions, regardless of whether students are learning virtually or back on campus. Therefore, FCPS employees and students’ families must report positive test results within 24 hours of receiving the news.
Fayette County Public Schools has established a COVID-19 reporting team to collect all this information confidentially and ensure accurate and transparent reporting. To report a positive COVID-19 test:
The district’s reporting team will take it from there.
For more information and resources, visit the FCPS COVID-19 webpages.
Recap of Sept. 25 school board meeting
The Fayette County Board of Education met Sept. 25 with experts from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the University of Kentucky to learn more about the incidents of COVID-19 in the community.
After sharing general information about COVID-19 in school-aged children, Lexington-Fayette County Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh reviewed the numbers of new cases in Fayette County, trends for different community demographics, hospitalizations, and percentages of asymptomatic individuals vs. patients with symptoms. He attributed the county’s “red designation” to the occurrence of COVID-19 among University of Kentucky students, and showed that the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases reported in Fayette County had plateaued at between 10 and 15 cases since mid-August after a steady incline from mid-June through Aug. 4.
Humbaugh said Fayette County was unlikely to move to the yellow designation as long as cases at the University of Kentucky continued at current rates. He explained that Fayette County is unique because UK students comprise roughly 10 percent of the population and UK is doing such an excellent job of testing and tracing COVID-19 cases. Other college communities are larger so the impact of college cases are diluted, or colleges are not conducting such comprehensive testing.
After his remarks, the school board heard from Lance Poston, co-project director of the UK Health Corps; Bob DiPaola, dean of the UK College of Medicine and team lead of the UK START Team; and Todd Brann, executive director of Institutional Research, Analytics, and Decision Support. They reviewed UK’s COVID-19 response, which includes extensive screening, testing, contact tracing, and isolation efforts.
Since UK began on-site testing, they have conducted more than 31,000 tests with roughly 1,300 positive results. They have fewer than 500 active cases among the 25,000 students physically coming to campus, the seven-day new case average for the week of Sept. 14 was lower than the previous week, and the current active positive case count is similar to the prior week of Aug. 31.
Also noteworthy, UK’s contact tracing has determined that students testing positive have had little impact on those outside the campus community. In fact, they stated, “exposures among members outside of the university community (not UK students or employees) who live in Fayette County represent only 5.5% of total exposures in our system.”
After hearing from these partners, Superintendent Manny Caulk explained the state’s new recommended guidance for school reopening. According to their “COVID-19 Mode of Instruction Metrics for K-12 Education chart,” school districts in counties with a red designation on the incidence map as of 8 p.m. Thursday should offer “remote learning only” and:
- Essential staff entering facility must practice best health practices for social distancing, mask use, handwashing, and sanitation as per Healthy At Schools Guidance on Safety Expectations and Best Practices for Kentucky Schools (K-12);
- Suspend in-person instruction activities until yellow level is achieved at a future weekly decision point;
- Activate remote learning;
- Continue essential student support services including meals, student engagement, and special education service;
- Schools may, at their own discretion, bring small groups of students into the building to receive targeted services that supplement learning.
- The community must return to yellow level at future weekly checkpoint before resuming in- person learning.
- Suspend all school-related athletic (per KHSAA guidance) and extracurricular activities.
“Given Dr. Humbaugh’s statement that Fayette County will unlikely receive a yellow rating as long as UK is in session, strict adherence to the state guidance would mean FCPS would remain virtual for at least the remainder of the 2020-21 school year,” Caulk said in an email to staff and families.
Up next: Sept. 28 board meeting
The school district faces difficult decisions at the Sept. 28 school board meeting, which will be streamed live on Facebook. “FCPS employees and families are some of the most intelligent and actively engaged I have ever had the honor of serving. I hope you will review this information and join the conversation. To share your thoughts, please email email@example.com and your comments will be directed to our board and me,” Caulk said.
(Posted Sept. 26, 2020)