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With COVID Rates In The Red, Fayette School Leaders Mull Options

AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

With positive university cases helping drive up the COVID-19 incidence rate in Fayette County, public school leaders are concerned that could prolong virtual-only learning for K-12 students.

"If we continue with the current practices, are we essentially going to stay in the red?"

That was Fayette school board chair Stephanie Spires getting blunt during a Friday meeting on whether a status quo approach at the University of Kentucky and in the wider community means the county will remain in the highest risk category. The color-coded designation notes critical spread of the coronavirus and the governor has said schools in those areas should stay closed.

On the university piece of the equation,  Fayette Health Commissioner Kraig Humbaugh said, "They're part of the community. They're contributing to our overall rate, and that's going to likely keep us in the red zone."

And that puts Fayette school planners in a tough spot: stick with the state guidance and continue remote learning while schools in surrounding counties restart, or go against the governor's recommendation and launch some form of hybrid in-person learning.

Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk has said the board will make decisions with the safety of students, staff, and families in mind. He had indicated that early October would be the earliest Fayette K-12 students might return to class.

But for now, the timing question may hinge on how well UK and the community can tamp their numbers down.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.