On COVID Precautions, Kentucky Superintendents Still Have Questions

Jul 6, 2020

State-issued guidance for reopening schools answered many of the big questions surrounding how classes might look in the age of COVID, but some details remain murky for the district leaders.

Credit AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias

Kentucky officials rolled out a number of guidelines — from temperature checks at bus stops to masking and distancing requirements for students — in late June. But in an online meeting Monday, state superintendents raised concerns about the degree to which schools can legally enforce the new rules.

One major sticking point is testing. Can schools require parents to test their children for COVID-19 before sending them back to school? How long must students go fever-free before returning to class? And should the process differ from typical rules surrounding illnesses like seasonal flus? 

With those scenarios yet to be fully sorted out, Dr. Emily Messerli with the University of Kentucky noted that federal guidelines do not call for testing of asymptomatic students as a prerequisite for returning to school in the fall.

"The CDC is not recommending blanket testing of the student population," she said. "As we've gone through all of this guidance though, in your school building your adults, your teachers, and your staff are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the children. The children are more the carriers, so doing testing with the staff members does make more sense."

Superintendents also asked how they should handle uncooperative families and those known to have recently visited a COVID hotspot.

Interim Education Commissioner Kevin Brown signaled he hopes to have answers to some of those questions in the coming days.