Beshear signs executive order requesting all schools reopen; 1,497 new COVID cases confirmed

Beshear signs executive order requesting all schools reopen; 1,497 new COVID cases confirmed
Governor Andy Beshear (Source: Facebook: Governor Andy Beshear)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Governor Andy Beshear announced during his daily briefing on COVID-19 in Kentucky on Tuesday that he signed an executive order urging all schools to resume some form of in-person learning.

The executive order by Beshear recommends that all schools in Kentucky continue in-person learning on March 1 or seven days after teachers and staff receive their second dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Beshear reiterated that Kentucky is on pace to be one of the fastest states to get its educators vaccinated.

“This new executive order recognizes we are in the process of getting our educators vaccinated and what that means,” the governor said.

He revealed only six of 171 Kentucky school districts, which include both private and public schools, have not resumed in-person instruction in some capacity so far. That includes Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, which is the state’s largest school district.

“For JCPS, it’s going to take a very specific plan,” he noted.

Schools resuming in-person instruction will have to follow many virus protocols, which include:

  • Students and staff must wear masks at all times, even on school buses and in hallways.
  • Classrooms and cafeterias should be less densely packed with desks separated by six feet or a reasonable distance.
  • To prevent overcrowding in hallways, schools should avoid having students switching classes all at once or eating lunch at the same time.
  • Schools with buildings that have poor ventilation should be inspected before in-person instruction resumes.

It was also explained that every school district that chooses to resume in-person learning must also provide its students with a virtual option if they choose it.

Beshear said there were at least 1,497 virus cases newly reported Tuesday. He also said there were 16 new virus-related deaths, raising the total to 4,476 Kentuckians lost to COVID-19.

The state positivity rate dropped to 6.3% Tuesday, the lowest it had been since Nov. 4.

“That’s good because the positivity rate is a leading, rather than a lagging, indicator,” Beshear explained.

The lower rates are a testament to the coronavirus vaccine, which the governor called vital to combating the spread of the virus.

“It means vaccinations work,” he said. “We’re already seeing it. We’re seeing it in these numbers. It’s a really positive sign.”

As of Tuesday, at least 594,800 COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across Kentucky.

It was announced 152,710 doses were shipped to Kentucky for the week of Feb. 23. The state is also getting around 10,000 additional doses of COVID vaccines for the next three weeks from the federal government.

Beshear put pressure on those eligible to get the vaccine to do so, no matter the manufacturer, as the state awaits doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“They are all good,” the governor said. “Whichever one you could get, you absolutely should get it.”

Regional vaccination centers will move to phase 1C on March 1. Priority will be given to those age 65 and older.

There are at least 51 regional sites administering vaccines and nearly 300 in total across the state. To find a location, click here.

Other sites include those set up through partnerships with Kroger, Walmart, Walgreens and other local businesses and pharmacies:

To find out who falls under each vaccine phase, click here. Individuals who want to know if they qualify for the vaccine can click here to fill out a survey or call (855) 598-2246.

The Kentucky COVID-19 Hotline can help with all other vaccine questions at (800) 722-5725.

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