Feb. 25, 2021
Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Tuesday recommending that all schools offer or expand some form of in-person instructional opportunities beginning March 1.
If school district personnel have not finished their vaccine series as of March 1, the order recommends some form of in-person instruction begin seven days after they have received their second vaccination. That seven-day period will end for local school personnel on Feb. 26.
“Basically it is saying that they’re still wanting the social distancing, but they said masks are a mandate at all times except when you’re in the cafeteria eating,” said Adair County School Superintendent Dr. Pam Stephens. “That’s going to be hard for some of our students.
“(The governor) did say although he wanted six feet for social distancing (he wants us) to do the best we can. That gives you hope that maybe we can get some more kids in the building and more days.”
Adair County school district personnel were provided the second round of the vaccine last week. Due to the availability of vaccines, a previous order that accommodates high-risk employees will now expire on March 15.
“What we foresaw is that the safest way to expand in-person opportunities is to vaccinate all of our school personnel,” said Gov. Beshear. “Since then, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have moved that way and other states have followed our lead.”
Stephens said there are some school districts in the state that have yet to come to school one day this academic year. She said the governor is basically telling those districts “you will go to school.”
New guidelines have been issued that include the continued use of face coverings while on school grounds. School requirements tied to a color-coded COVID-19 county incidence rate map will be discontinued as of March 1.
In the executive order, Beshear calls on school districts to prioritize in-person instruction over extracurricular activities.
“I would have loved to have seen this earlier,” Stephens said. “What I hate is we lost all that time (to the virus) in August, a full month. It really doesn’t matter to us because we’ve been going to school because we’ve felt like we were being safe.”
Stephens also said if social distancing restrictions would be lowered to even four feet, “we could probably get one-third more kids in the building. That would be great at the primary center and the elementary school.”
Beshear calls on schools to continue with a virtual option in addition to in-person classes through the end of the current school year.
“We’re very much excited about this,” Stephens said. “We want the kids back in school.”
By Scott Wilson