BCS releases updated COVID guidelines

Published 4:32 pm Thursday, August 5, 2021

Boyle County Schools’ first day back to class will be Aug. 11, and the district has been working to establish guidelines for how to begin the year during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of Boyle County now being red on the Kentucky COVID-19 current incidence rate according to data from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, with a rate of 44.7 average daily cases per 100,000 people based on the previous seven days as of Aug. 4, the Boyle County Schools CPR Team has made some changes to their recommendations for COVID-19 response in the district. They made these changes with help from Brent Blevins, the Boyle County Health Department public health director.

These changes to the district’s green light-yellow light-red light approach to COVID-19 for the upcoming school year were discussed at a special called school board meeting working session on Aug. 4.

The changes are:

• Masks are now recommended for everyone, both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, in the green light stage, with which the district will begin the year. Originally, they were recommended for just those individuals who are not vaccinated in this stage. Since there is no mask mandate, the district will not strictly enforce masks in this stage, but they are encouraged.

• The district added the following words to its strategy documents: “Boyle County Schools will consult with local health officials and the Boyle County Health Department to review the Kentucky COVID-19 Current Incidence Rate map and determine appropriate intervention levels. Boyle County Schools will communicate changes in intervention levels with all stakeholders as those decisions are made.” This will allow the district to easily pivot from stage to stage, depending on multiple factors including cases in the district and the incidence rate map.

• In the yellow light stage, which means there are some cases and quarantines in the district or in a school, “Boyle County Schools reserves the right to require masks for all individuals, regardless of vaccine status, at any point as a mitigation strategy.” This was originally only in place for the red light stage, in which there are a lot of cases and/or quarantines.

The status (green, yellow or red) will be made on a school-by-school basis. However, if one school is at red light, the others in the district will go into yellow light as a precaution.

“What we’d like to do is begin the year in our green light and then I’ve told the CPR we need to be gathering data quickly so we know we’re not behind the curve — we’re in front of it, and if we need to pivot to yellow, we’ll do it, and we’ll do it quickly,” Superintendent Mike LaFavers said.

Board member Laura Weddle raised the concern of the current county incidence rate and said several concerned parents have reached out to her about the lack of a mask requirement when beginning the year.

“We’re getting ready to start at the highest level we’ve been in quite some time, and I’m just sharing the concerns of people that have contacted me,” she said.

Vice-chairperson of the board Jesse Johnson said that being the case, the county rate is only one component of multiple factors that go into the district’s decision.

“Until we start the school year and have the other factors in what we’re dealing with, we can’t really say we need to start red, or we need to start yellow,” he said. “We need to start green.”

Johnson said since the district will easily be able to pivot from stage to stage, it will be able to quickly address situations if and when they arise.

A breakdown of some of the green light-yellow light-red light guidance is as follows:

Green: Face coverings are recommended, but not required, for all individuals. Face coverings are, in all stages at all times for all individuals, required on buses. Encourage hand washing and hand sanitizer use whenever feasible. Cafeterias will have assigned seating. Separate students to extent possible who are running fevers or experiencing other symptoms, and sanitize where the student was when the student leaves. Socially-distance at least 3 feet when possible. Contact tracing and quarantining will be conducted, as will increased cleaning.

Yellow: The district has the ability to require mask wearing for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. There will be a more intensive cleaning protocol.

Red: All individuals will be required to wear a mask, social distancing will become more strict and cleaning would be like it was during the previous school year.

Refer to guidance from the district and the Boyle County Schools website for further information. A superintendent’s message and documents can be found at this link. 

In other business:

The school board made the decision with a 4-1 vote, with board member Ruth Ann Elliott as the dissenting vote, to accept the recommendation from the Kentucky School Boards Association to include in its notice of nondiscrimination under Title IX sexual orientation and gender identity in its definition of sex, when it says the district does not discriminate on the basis of sex, as required by law.

This was in response to an Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity from U.S. President Joe Biden and did not carry the same weight as a Supreme Court ruling because it is an executive order. Therefore, this came as a recommendation, not a requirement, for the school board to adopt it into its own district policy. Ultimately, the board did adopt this second reading of the KSBA update and other district procedures.