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Red Zone Schools Get The Green Light To Reopen — On Several Conditions

Josh James

Kentucky K-12 schools in communities with high coronavirus spread can open their doors to students in January if they meet a number of new requirements.

The governor is now giving schools in "red zones," which currently encompass nearly the entire state, a new option in 2021. In addition to all-remote learning, schools can also opt for what Gov. Beshear calls a "more aggressive" version of the hybrid model, which allows for a limited return to in-person classes.

Red zone schools wishing to bring students back must provide "meaningful virtual options" that cannot negatively impact a student's GPA, class rank, educational opportunities, or ability to take AP classes. Educators in high risk categories should also have the choice to go virtual, according to the new guidance.

The governor said there will be some flexibility for schools of different sizes but acknowledged meeting the criteria will be challenging.

"We're going to hear from, I'm sure, some different school leaders that these things are really hard. Yes, operating safely in a pandemic is hard," Beshear said during his daily briefing. "But that's why they're the top leaders in education in their community. We've set out tenets. It's time for them to make it happen. I know they can."

Healthy at Schools guidelines will go from recommendations to being mandatory on January 4th. But the administration is urging schools not to restart traditional learning until January 11th, to allow for a 14-day window between the Christmas holiday and any return to in-person classes.

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.